In New Interview, Apple CEO Tim Cook Details Why He Came Out

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Monday October 28, 2019

Tim Cook, the openly gay CEO of Apple, who stepped up to take over the company after the death of founder Steve Jobs, spilled the tea on what made him step out of the closet a half-dozen years ago. Cook recalled his decision in an interview with "People en Español," which also published the interview in English.

As Business Insider recalled, Cook revealed that he is gay in an op-ed he writes for Bloomberg Businessweek.

Noted Business Insider:

This made him the first openly gay CEO of a Fortune 500 company.

Cook told "People en Español" reporter Armondo Correa that before coming out he conferred with openly gay CNN anchor Anderson Cooper:

When I'm doing something complex that I've never done before, I try to make a list of people who have come before ... and he was the first one on the list. I called him up, and I was fortunate enough that he would take the meeting. He was very open about it.

Cook also recalled that he ran the idea by the Apple board of directors - though it wasn't as though he had any concern that the board would shoot the idea down. Noted Cook:

I honestly never even thought that they would not. You just think about Apple. Apple was giving partner benefits before almost anybody. The company has a history of being open and diverse.

But the heart of the interview was Cook's explanation of what it was that prompted him to come out to the world when he could easily have stayed in the closet:

...I was getting notes from kids who were struggling with their sexual orientation. They were depressed. Some said [they] had suicidal thoughts. Some had been banished by their own parents and family.

It weighed on me in terms of what I could do. Obviously, I couldn't talk to each one individually that reached out, but you always know if you have people reaching out to you that there's many more that don't, that are just out there wondering whether they have a future or not, wondering whether life gets better ... From there I really decided.

Cook also shared his perspective on the heartbreaking reality that not all parents are supportive - some because of out and out homophobia, some because of faith-driven hatred, and some because of a mistaken notion that "they think their child's potential is less because they're gay." Cook noted that some parents of LGBTQ youth "think that it's almost a life sentence to not have as good a life, to not have a happy life."

But Cook had some clear-eyed wisdom to share with those parents:

My message to them is that it doesn't have to be like that. It starts with them because if they treat their child with respect and dignity, just like we treat each other, then that child can do anything they want, including [being] the CEO of Apple, or to be the president or whatever they want.

Being gay is not a limitation. It's a feature.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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