Why Tim Cook’s coming out essay was so very important

Today Apple’s chief executive Tim Cook came out publicly in a moving essay in Bloomberg Businessweek. This is historic stuff, people. Cook is the highest-profile CEO to date to confirm that he is gay and is the first openly gay CEO of a Fortune 500 company.

“While I have never denied my sexuality, I haven’t publicly acknowledged it either, until now,” wrote 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.”

I know, it’s pretty inspiring stuff. I cried all over my keyboard while reading Cook’s words, too.

Cook goes on to explain that he has been open about being gay in his private life, but recently has come to realize that there were compelling reasons for him to go public about his private life.

“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.”

LGBT rights activists are applauding Cook’s public confirmation that he is gay as well and are helping the world understand just how significant this move is.

“It is a game changer for corporate America,” Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of GLAAD, told USA Today. “He set the example for inclusion.”

Meanwhile, Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin states that Cook is doing more than changing the game with this announcement, he’s actually saving people.

“Tim Cook’s announcement today will save countless lives. He has always been a role model, but today millions across the globe will draw inspiration from a different aspect of his life.”

Cook’s coming out is one small step for the CEO and one giant step for the corporate world. In entertainment, we have a growing number of artists and performers who are open about their sexuality. In the sports world, athletes are starting to come out on the world stage, there were seven openly gay athletes at the Sochi Winter Olympics and this year football player Michael Sam made history by being the first openly gay athlete to be selected in the NFL draft. In the business world, Cook is one of few openly gay leaders for such a massively high-profile company. His announcement could have a huge and positive impact on corporate culture in general.

“Of course, I’ve had the good fortune to work at a company that loves creativity and innovation and knows it can only flourish when you embrace people’s differences,” Cook writes. “Not everyone is so lucky.”

He’s right. But today, his essay may have the moved the needle a little further in the direction of acceptance.

Apple is a company that influences so many millions of people—particularly young people—everyday. It produces the leading smartphone devices, in a country where, according to Nielsen, 70 percent of teenagers, aged 13-17, own their own smartphones. Cook’s message, undoubtedly, is reaching this really important demographic. They are the teenagers of today, and future business leaders of tomorrow. It’s huge thing to have a role model at the head of the company encouraging young consumers to proudly embrace who they are.

A billion and one props to Tim Cook for being a Grade-A inspiration and transforming this Thursday from just another ordinary old day into the biggest and most beautiful celebration.

(Image: via)

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