Apple has often been a company that breaks the cycle of how things are done. In Tim Cook, they have the only openly gay or lesbian CEO in the list of Fortune 500 companies. While many people at Apple and in Silicon Valley have known about Cook’s sexuality for years, his recent comments are the first public admission from the CEO.
When he spoke with Bloomberg’s Businessweek show, Tim Cook had this to say about the situation: “I think I should be clear about this. I am very proud to be a gay man. I consider it a great gift from God that I am gay.” This is the first time Cook has spoken in public about his sexuality, despite the fact that he has worked in high level positions at Apple for many years.
For many years, Cook was determined to keep his private life out of the spotlight. He let his work do the talking, instead of letting the conversation veer towards the possibility that he was gay. He never hid this information from his colleagues, because he had absolutely nothing to be ashamed about.
“Throughout my professional life, I’ve tried to maintain a basic level of privacy. I come from humble roots, and I don’t seek to draw attention to myself,” Cook said in the Bloomberg Businessweek article. “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 realise that my desire for personal privacy has been holding me back from doing something more important. That’s what has led me to today.”
People in California who work in the tech industry did not find this news surprising. The chatter among them has always been that Mr. Cook is homosexual. In fact, the Apple CEO has been known to post on private tech forums, with the conversation sometimes focusing on his childhood. Cook would talk about the hard times he faced in Alabama, the state where he grew up.
This information makes Tim Cook the most high profile gay individual in the business world. He may not be the only major player for a Fortune 500 company who is homosexual, but he is the only one who has spoken openly about the matter. In fact, Deloitte statistics show that around 80% of LGBT people are afraid to disclose their sexual preferences at work.
Cook said he does not consider himself a gay rights activist, but he realised how much he has benefited from the sacrifices of equal rights activists in the past.
“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,’ he said. “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.”