Six years ago, Tim Cook took the reins of Apple after Steve Jobs passed away. A year later, after reading letters from young people struggling with their own sexuality, he came out as gay.
The 59-year-old’s revelation in 2014 was a ground-breaking, historic move – as well as leading the world’s most powerful tech giant, he became the first openly gay CEO of a Fortune 500 firm.
Cook told the world about his sexuality via an open letter. Now, six years later, he’s opened up further in a rare interview, in which he talks more about sexual orientation and young people today.
In the original letter, first published in Bloomberg, Cook wrote:
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.
In Cook’s first interview with a Spanish-language outlet in the US, People en Español’s editor-in-chief Armando Correa asked the Apple CEO why he – usually quite a private person – published such a candid letter regarding his sexuality.
What was driving me was [that] 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 added he felt he owed something to people who were in a younger generation, recognising there were a lot of people before him who assisted him in his rise to where he sits today.
Talking about finding the right time to publish the letter, Cook added:
It probably took a year between getting the words exactly like I wanted and picking the right time for the company, because I didn’t want it to be a distraction and so forth. I have not regretted it for one minute. Not at all.
Cook previously noted ‘plenty of colleagues at Apple know I’m gay, and it doesn’t seem to make a difference in the way they treat me.’ However, he was concerned about the reaction outside of the company, saying: ‘The world is not friendly to gay or trans people in many countries, but also within our country.’
Recognising how he can’t understand ‘the trials and tribulations’ of every minority group, Cook said in his message:
Life gets better… you can have a great life filled with joy. Gay is not a limitation. It’s a characteristic that I hope they view, like I do, [as] God’s greatest gift.
I’m not saying that I understand the trials and tribulations of every minority group, because I don’t. But I do understand for one of the groups. And to the degree that it helps give you a lens on how other people may feel, I think that’s a gift in and of itself.
Cook’s interview comes as Apple finds itself battling controversy. The company was accused of pandering to Chinese state media’s demands after deleting an app that allowed users to track police movements in Hong Kong.
While the CEO faced criticism from US lawmakers – including Marco Rubio and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez – Cook defended his decision on the grounds that the app was being used to ‘maliciously target individual officers for violence’, as Business Insider reports.
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After graduating from Glasgow Caledonian University with an NCTJ and BCTJ-accredited Multimedia Journalism degree, Cameron ventured into the world of print journalism at The National, while also working as a freelance film journalist on the side, becoming an accredited Rotten Tomatoes critic in the process. He’s now left his Scottish homelands and took up residence at UNILAD as a journalist.