Apple CEO Tim Cook on Thursday published a moving essay in Bloomberg Businessweek in which he publicly announced for the first time that he is gay. Cook is the first CEO of a Fortune 500 company to publicly come out.
Cook is famously private and said he doesn’t think of himself as an activist, but decided to speak out to help others.
“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,” Cook 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 also given me the skin of a rhinoceros, which comes in handy when you’re the CEO of Apple.”
As a company, Apple is firmly in support of marriage equality and has opposed legislation considered discriminatory toward the LBGTQ community. The company supports workplace equality legislation in its home state of California and earlier this year took a stand against Arizona legislation that would have allowed businesses to refuse service on the basis of religion. Bloomberg Businessweek editor Josh Tyrangiel said in a video accompanying the editorial that Apple’s board of directors supported Cook’s decision to publicly announce that he’s gay.
Cook said privacy remains important to him and that he will “continue to spend virtually of my waking time focused on being the best CEO I can be.”