One of the worst kept secrets in Silicon Valley has now transmuted itself into an official admission after Apple CEO Tim Cook admitted being gay in an essay penned for Bloomberg Businessweek.
Rumors of Cook’s sexual orientation persisted for years as the famously private executive shed little light on his personal life. He’s been open about his lifestyle with many co-workers, though.
“Plenty of colleagues at Apple know I’m gay, and it doesn’t seem to make a difference in the way they treat me,” he said. ”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,” he observed, adding that “not everyone is so lucky”.
No matter how you look at it, this is a historic move: the CEO of the world’s most powerful corporation just announced publicly he’s gay. Top-level executives rarely, if ever, discuss their sexual preference out of fear of losing customers, proving that corporate America as a whole still has a long way to go to embrace the individuality and fight against discrimination at workplace.
Cook’s bombshell announcement is a step in the right direction so hopefully a few other high-profile CEOs will follow suit.
“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,” those are his words.
Being gay has given him ”the skin of a rhinoceros, which comes in handy when you’re the CEO of Apple”.
Cook added he’s tried to maintain “a basic level of privacy” throughout his career and underscored he’s not seeking to draw attention to himself, but at the same time confessed to wanting to encourage others to come out of the closet.
Cook doesn’t consider himself an activist, though Apple’s recent efforts against discrimination have been well documented. Ultimately, it’s his hope that his move will be worth the trade-off with his own privacy if hearing that the Apple CEO 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.”
He also quoted Dr. Martin Luther King, who said: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’”.
After realizing his focus on personal privacy has been holding him back “from doing something more important”, he decided to come clean about his sexual orientation.
Reading between the lines, some people realized Cook was probably gay after hearing his speech in Alabama about L.G.B.T. rights. He talked about the difficulties of growing up as a young man in Alabama, where he spent much of his childhood.
By the way, Arthur D. Levinson, chairman of Apple’s board, said in a statement that “Tim has our wholehearted support and admiration in making this courageous personal statement.”
The full essay contains other interesting tidbits so hop over to Bloomberg and give it a quick read and then come back here to chime in with your thoughts in the comments.