Cook said he was inspired to write this article by the pictures on his office wall of Robert F Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, who said: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’”
“While I have never denied my sexuality, I haven’t publicly acknowledged it either, until now,” writes Cook. “So let me be clear: I’m proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me.”
In a first-person article, the 53-year-old shared with the world that he had tried to maintain “a basic level of privacy,” but because of his desire for privacy he couldn’t work at his fullest and for the benefit of others.
“I don’t consider myself an activist, but I realize how much I’ve benefited from the sacrifice of others,” 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.”
There has been a lot of speculation about his sexuality, but the head of the tech giant has never discussed the issue publicly. Cook says many of Apple workers are aware that he is gay.
He has always promoted equality, even wrote to The Wall Street Journal to support a federal bill to prevent job discrimination based on sexuality. Later in December at an event organized by his alma mater Auburn University, he spoke of dealing with discrimination in his life.
“I have seen and have experienced many types of discrimination, and all of them were rooted in the fear of people that were different than the majority,” he said in that speech.
Art Levinson, Apple’s chairman, said the board supports and admires Cook’s “courageous” statement. “His decision to speak out will help advance the cause of equality and inclusion far beyond the business world,” Levinson said in his statement. “On behalf of the board and our entire company, we are incredibly proud to have Tim leading Apple.”
Cook becomes the first openly gay CEO of a Fortune 500 company, according to gays rights group Human Rights Campaign, who applauded the Apple chief’s essay.
“Tim Cook’s announcement today will save countless lives,” says HRC President Chad Griffin. “He has always been a role model, but today millions across the globe will draw inspiration from a different aspect of his life.”
However, his coming out also received negative response, in particular from across the ocean. The Russian politician Vitaly Milonov claimed that Tim Cook “should be banned” from entering the country after he came out as gay for the first time. Anti LGBT campaigner even suggested that Cook could bring “the Ebola virus, Aids or gonorrhea”, drawing on his stereotypes of homosexuals, reports FlashNord.