Tim Cook: Apple CEO comes out as gay publicly for the first time 'It's among the greatest gifts God has given me'

“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 confidence," he writes

Tim Cook, the CEO of technology giant Apple, has publicly addressed his sexuality for the first time.

In a moving open letter published on the Bloomberg Businessweek, he writes that he is “proud to be gay” and considers being gay “among the greatest gifts God has given me”.

“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,” he writes.

“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.”

He went on to describe the changing attitudes of society towards the LGBT community since he was a child, and praised the brave public figures who have come out for challenging existing misconceptions and encouraging cultural tolerance.

“Still, there are laws on the books in a majority of states that allow employers to fire people based solely on their sexual orientation,” he continues. “There are many places where landlords can evict tenants for being gay, or where we can be barred from visiting sick partners and sharing in their legacies. Countless people, particularly kids, face fear and abuse every day because of their sexual orientation.

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“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.”

The decision to publicly come out “wasn’t an easy choice”, he adds, calling for others to continue to respect his privacy over the matter.

“I’ve made Apple my life’s work, and I will continue to spend virtually all of my waking time focused on being the best CEO I can be. That’s what our employees deserve and our customers, developers, shareholders, and supplier partners deserve it, too.

“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. I hope that people will respect my desire to focus on the things I’m best suited for and the work that brings me joy.”

He ends the letter by describing the images of Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy that adorn his office desk for inspiration.

“I don’t pretend that writing this puts me in their league,” Cook concludes. “All it does is allow me to look at those pictures and know that I’m doing my part, however small, to help others.

“We pave the sunlit path toward justice together, brick by brick. This is my brick.”

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