Writing in Businessweek, Apple’s Tim Cook has publicly come out. While he has been open in his personal life, this is the first public acknowledgement from the 53-year-old executive. “While I have never denied my sexuality, I haven’t publicly acknowledged it either, until now. So let me be clear: I’m proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me.”
The statement touches on Cook’s reasons for keeping his personal life private up until now, but also details his thoughts on why this is an important step for him to take. “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.”
Monty Moncrieff is CEO of London Friend, an organization that offers counselling and support around issues such as same-sex relationships, sexual and gender identity and promoting personal growth and self-confidence. I asked how important is Cook’s announcement in helping someone come to terms with their own sexuality?
“It’s great to see Tim Cook talk so positively about his sexual orientation. Although for some lesbian, gay & bisexual people this is a private matter for many of us it’s such an integral part of our identity and it’s important for us to feel at ease in the workplace
“Even very casual conversations about what you did at the weekend or about partners can be uncomfortable for gay people who aren’t out. We know that people feel they can reach their full potential at work when they’re relaxed and open about who they are.”
As Cook points out, the attitudes of America are slowly changing, but there are many laws (such as civil union) that are discriminatory. Moncrieff highlighted how important Cook’s personal and public position will be in the workplace.
“For many years LGB people lacked legal protections at work on grounds of sexual orientation. We’ve made great progress here in the UK, but the picture is not so positive elsewhere around the world.
“Cook talks of his hope that even just one person might feel better about their own sexual identity as a result of his coming out, but being such a high-profile CEO on a global scale I think his actions today will have a much wider impact on LGB people feeling more confident to be themselves at work, and for their employers to make them feel more supported.”
Cook’s essay builds on “I’m proud to be gay” and shows how his orientation has shaped him and given him the strength and belief to live his life on his terms. As a personal step, this announcement is one of the largest of Tim Cook’s life. I have no doubt that it will also be a moment that impacts on many individuals around the world who will be able to see that their orientation is a gift to be celebrated.