In a lovely essay for Bloomberg Businessweek today, Apple CEO Tim Cook confirmed that he is gay. “While I have never denied my sexuality, I haven’t publicly acknowledged it either, until now,” he writes. “So let me be clear: I’m proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me.”
Cook’s sexuality has long been a mostly open secret. Out magazine ranked him at the top of their “Power 50” list back in 2011. Gawker has called him “the most powerful gay man in America.” There was this awkward incident on CNBC last summer. And in December 2013, he edged toward discussing the subject himself in a speech on gay rights and racism, saying, “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.”
But in his Businessweek essay, Cook says he finally came out in the hopes that he might serve as an inspiration for others. “I don’t consider myself an activist,” he writes, “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.”
One has to wonder if this might also signal Cook’s transition into a more vocal advocate for LGBT rights. In his piece, he notes that in many parts of the country, gay and lesbian Americans can still be fired from their jobs or evicted from their homes based on their sexuality. “Countless people, particularly kids, face fear and abuse every day because of their sexual orientation,” he writes. Recently, he criticized his home state of Alabama for its own lack of progress on marriage equality.
All that said, the most shocking section of the essay is this paragraph:
Part of social progress is understanding that a person is not defined only by one’s sexuality, race, or gender. I’m an engineer, an uncle, a nature lover, a fitness nut, a son of the South, a sports fanatic, and many other things.
As Bloomberg View’s Adam Minter put it: