Being gay is a ‘gift from God’, says Apple CEO Tim Cook

30 Oct 2014

Tim Cook, CEO of Apple. Photo by The Climate Group via Flickr

For the first time, Apple’s CEO Tim Cook has publicly addressed the fact he is gay in an open letter that includes his feelings about being part of a minority.

In the letter published in Bloomberg Business Week, Cook wrote that many people familiar with him would have known his orientation, but by addressing it publicly for the first time, he hopes it encourages others like him to speak out.

“I’m proud to be gay,” he wrote, “and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me.”

Future Human

He also wrote about how being part of a minority that is still regularly targeted by certain members of society has affected the way he goes about his daily life and even in running Apple, one of the biggest companies in the world.

Encouraging others to stand up for themselves

Cook continued, “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.”

That is why, he wrote, it was his decision to go public and infringe his own privacy, to potentially give impetus to people who may also be criticised for their sexual orientation to stand up for who they are and what they believe.

“I don’t consider myself an activist, but I realise 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.”

Following on diversity promise

Cook’s openness about his sexuality comes after Apple released its own diversity report in August, which included a personal message from Cook admitting there is much work to be done within Apple to create a more diverse company.

In his letter on diversity, Cook wrote, “Let me say up front: As CEO, I’m not satisfied with the numbers on this page. They’re not new to us, and we’ve been working hard for quite some time to improve them. We are making progress, and we’re committed to being as innovative in advancing diversity as we are in developing our products.”

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic