Tim Cook Is Gay: Apple CEO Officially Comes Out

Yes, people have been talking about Tim Cook being gay forever. He was never secretive about it (like when he gave a speech about gay rights at his alma mater). He just hadn’t said “I’m gay” with his own mouth in a public place or to a media outlet. So that left him in a really nebulous place, media-wise. Do we talk about the fact that he is a super powerful, super smart homogay computer gentleman? Or do we not? Some media outlets have specifically chosen not to include him in their discourse because he had never come out publicly (though some, like Queerty, acknowledge that this is why they don’t include him even though he is gay, which seems like a really strange way of honoring privacy). Some have chosen to just talk about him as gay, regardless of the fact that he’s been a deeply private man in a weird age where information about people is so, so public and accessible (and that labeling him without his consent is kinda meh-icky-weird as a hapless CNBC host found out earlier this year).

tim-cook-business-week

Photograph by Ashley Gilbertson for Bloomberg Businessweek.

Until this morning. In an article he penned for Bloomberg Businessweek, Tim Cook came out in a very public way using his own words.

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.

Further along in the article, he does distance himself from activism:

The world has changed so much since I was a kid. America is moving toward marriage equality, and the public figures who have bravely come out have helped change perceptions and made our culture more tolerant. Still, there are laws on the books in a majority of states that allow employers to fire people based solely on their sexual orientation. There are many places where landlords can evict tenants for being gay, or where we can be barred from visiting sick partners and sharing in their legacies. Countless people, particularly kids, face fear and abuse every day because of their sexual orientation.

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.

And you know what? I can dig that. Coming out isn’t activism just because you’re a high-profile CEO — in fact, coming out is probably less of an activist act for someone in Cook’s position than for someone who isn’t, who doesn’t head a company full of supportive people and has so much more to lose should it go poorly: home, family, job — Cook knows that by penning this article, he really doesn’t stand to lose any of those human needs whereas so many others do. He lists the things his company has done to further gay rights and hopes his company will continue to do those things, but truly he just wants to be a CEO. And he wants to do what he can to make the world better.

via iMore

via iMore

While he doesn’t consider this an activist act, I do think it makes the world a little better than it was before. When we tell our gay youth that it really can get better if we all strive to make it better, Tim Cook is one of the people we can point to. The CEO of one of the most powerful companies in the world, a company responsible for changing the tech industry over and over again, is gay. And he feels good about saying that.

What a world we live in today, huh folks? Who’s gonna be the next CEO? Who’s gonna change the face of the world? It could be any of us, and every day we have more and more possibility models to prove it.

Staff Writer for Autostraddle, Part-time Faculty at The New School (teaching digital storytelling), Managing Editor for Scholar & Feminist Online at Barnard Center for Research On Women. Follow me on Twitter @AEOsworth or on Instagram, also @AEOsworth.

A.E. has written 544 articles for us.

8 Comments

  1. I’m really happy for Tim, and I think it’s a particularly big deal that he’s CEO of such a prominent company. I also wonder how long it will be before a queer woman is in a similar position?

    I’m frustrated, though, that many in the media couldn’t respect his wishes for privacy prior to today’s announcement. I’m glad the coverage here address this!

  2. Good coverage, Ali! I completely agree – simply existing openly is a powerful statement, and it’s important for people to choose whether or not they become activists simply by being part of a minority group. Being gay doesn’t have to be synonymous with “head of the gay parade”, so if we start stripping away those kinds of responsibilities, maybe more people will be comfortable coming out.

    It also doesn’t hurt that the way he addressed his identity was very affirming and sensitive.

  3. “Gay brothers and sisters,… You must come out. Come out… to your parents… I know that it is hard and will hurt them but think about how they will hurt you in the voting booth! Come out to your relatives… come out to your friends… if indeed they are your friends. Come out to your neighbors… to your fellow workers… to the people who work where you eat and shop… come out only to the people you know, and who know you. Not to anyone else. But once and for all, break down the myths, destroy the lies and distortions. For your sake. For their sake. For the sake of the youngsters who are becoming scared by the votes from Dade to Eugene.”

    ― Harvey Milk

  4. I remember when he was made the CEO, all the headlines were about a new gay CEO of Apple, and I truly didn’t know that he wasn’t officially out until I saw the clip of that dude making the same assumption I had on CNN lol. Glad he got a chance to say it in his own way and time tho. 🙂

  5. My dad is a big fan of Apple and found out about this before I did and told me about Cook’s article and how much he liked it… it made me really happy. I’m out to him and he’s supportive and great but I haven’t felt able to explain what my queer identity means to me because words are hard for me, and I feel like reading that article probably made him understand a little better. So yay! Thank you Tim Cook!

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