This news may not be good gossip, but it’s still remarkable. Apple CEO Tim Cook has written a column for Newsweek to express his sexual orientation. This isn’t news to anyone who follows Tim on social media. He’s always been very outspoken about gay rights and attends Pride parades with and without his employees. Earlier this year, a news anchor accidentally outed him on CNBC. Tim stayed silent on that incident, which is understandable. Tim decided that the time is now right to discuss the issue in a very eloquent piece. He says that losing some of his cherished privacy is worth helping others who are “struggling to come to terms with who he or she is, or bring comfort to anyone who feels alone.” This is a great piece. I did cut a few intro paragraphs for brevity’s sake:
For years, I’ve been open with many people about my sexual orientation. Plenty of colleagues at Apple know I’m gay, and it doesn’t seem to make a difference in the way they treat me. Of course, I’ve had the good fortune to work at a company that loves creativity and innovation and knows it can only flourish when you embrace people’s differences. Not everyone is so lucky.
While I have never denied my sexuality, I haven’t publicly acknowledged it either, until now. So let me be clear: I’m proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me.
Being gay has given me a deeper understanding of what it means to be in the minority and provided a window into the challenges that people in other minority groups deal with every day. It’s made me more empathetic, which has led to a richer life. It’s been tough and uncomfortable at times, but it has given me the confidence to be myself, to follow my own path, and to rise above adversity and bigotry. It’s also given me the skin of a rhinoceros, which comes in handy when you’re the CEO of Apple.
I don’t consider myself an activist, but I realize how much I’ve benefited from the sacrifice of others. So if hearing that the CEO of Apple is gay can help someone struggling to come to terms with who he or she is, or bring comfort to anyone who feels alone, or inspire people to insist on their equality, then it’s worth the trade-off with my own privacy.
I’ll admit that this wasn’t an easy choice. Privacy remains important to me, and I’d like to hold on to a small amount of it. I’ve made Apple my life’s work, and I will continue to spend virtually all of my waking time focused on being the best CEO I can be. That’s what our employees deserve—and our customers, developers, shareholders, and supplier partners deserve it, too. Part of social progress is understanding that a person is not defined only by one’s sexuality, race, or gender. I’m an engineer, an uncle, a nature lover, a fitness nut, a son of the South, a sports fanatic, and many other things. I hope that people will respect my desire to focus on the things I’m best suited for and the work that brings me joy.
The company I am so fortunate to lead has long advocated for human rights and equality for all. We’ve taken a strong stand in support of a workplace equality bill before Congress, just as we stood for marriage equality in our home state of California. And we spoke up in Arizona when that state’s legislature passed a discriminatory bill targeting the gay community. We’ll continue to fight for our values, and I believe that any CEO of this incredible company, regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation, would do the same. And I will personally continue to advocate for equality for all people until my toes point up.
When I arrive in my office each morning, I’m greeted by framed photos of Dr. King and Robert F. Kennedy. I don’t pretend that writing this puts me in their league. All it does is allow me to look at those pictures and know that I’m doing my part, however small, to help others. We pave the sunlit path toward justice together, brick by brick. This is my brick.
This is a wonderful line about Tim’s perspective on life as a gay man: “It’s also given me the skin of a rhinoceros, which comes in handy when you’re the CEO of Apple.” Right on.
Like I said, this isn’t hugely revealing news, but it is important. Many of Tim’s friends and colleagues already knew his sexual orientation, and no one made a fuss about it. The larger issue, of course, is that Tim Cook is poised to influence the battle for gay rights and other minority issues. One of the most influential men in the world just took a very powerful stance. Respect.
Photos courtesy of Tim Cook on Twitter & WENN