Apple CEO Tim Cook comes out as gay

“I’m proud to be gay, I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me,” Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, wrote in a Bloomberg Businessweek editorial, published this morning. 

"It's stories like Tim Cook's that really get people to think different. As a person of faith, a son of the south, and the CEO of one of the world's largest companies, Tim Cook's story reaches from church pews to the C-Suite, sending a powerful message to countless people that anyone can live the life they love," said Sarah Kate Ellis, GLAAD CEO & President. "Apple has a long history of inclusion, and today the company continues its role as a leader in the fight for full equality."

At the age of 53, Tim has never spoken publicly about being gay, though he said he never hid his identity from those who know him personally. He wrote:

Being gay has given me a deeper understanding of what it means to be in the minority and provided a window into the challenges that people in other minority groups deal with every day. 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 given me the skin of a rhinoceros, which comes in handy when you’re the CEO of Apple.

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.

Bloomberg News commentators discussed the impact that Tim’s announcement could have internationally, on his brand, and on LGBT equality: “This is a big step for society, for American business. There has never been in my searching a CEO who has voluntarily stepped out as a Fortune 500 CEO and said, ‘I’m gay.’ And it’s not just the CEO of any company, it’s the CEO of the most closely watched company in the world,” said the editor who worked with Tim.

His announcement comes just three days after the Associated Press reported on Tim’s critique of the rate of legal equality and cultural acceptance in his home state of Alabama--and just two days before GLAAD launched Southern Stories. He said his state was “too slow” implementing racial equality, and is “still too slow on equality for the LGBT community.”

Read his full editorial here.