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“I’m proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me,” Cook writes in what is the Apple CEO’s first public acknowledgment of his sexuality.
Cook’s sexuality wasn’t the most closely guarded secret. Rumors had swirled that he was gay, particularly given his support of LGBT rights. He was named the most powerful LGBT person on Out‘s 2013 power list. And CNBC’s Squawk on the Street co-host Simon Hobbs accidentally outed Cook on CNBC in June, saying “I think Tim Cook is fairly open about the fact that he is gay at the head of Apple, isn’t he?” only to be greeted with silence and a terse “no” from New York Times columnist James R. Stewart, who was talking about gay CEOs.
“Oh, dear. Was that an error?” asked Hobbs.
In his essay, Cook explained that he’s “been open with many people about [his] sexual orientation” including “plenty” of his Apple colleagues.
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Of how those at Apple who know he’s gay have reacted, Cook writes, “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.”
He also writes about why he decided to come out now and hasn’t in the past.
“Throughout my professional life, I’ve tried to maintain a basic level of privacy,” Cook writes. “I come from humble roots, and I don’t seek to draw attention to myself. Apple is already one of the most closely watched companies in the world, and I like keeping the focus on our products and the incredible things our customers achieve with them. At the same time, I believe deeply in the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, who said: ‘Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’ I often challenge myself with that question, and I’ve come to realize that my desire for personal privacy has been holding me back from doing something more important. That’s what has led me to today.”
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He writes that being gay has given him an understanding of the challenges faced by minorities, making him empathetic to such struggles, but that it’s also given him the confidence to be himself and made him thick-skinned.
He also hopes that his disclosure can help others.
“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,” Cook writes.
And he hopes that he’ll be able to retain some of his privacy, stay focused on being the best CEO for Apple that he can be and that his sexuality won’t define him.
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Portia de Rossi
James Gordon Meek