Tim Cook: I’m Proud to Be Gay

Tim Cook
Courtesy: Joe Pugliese, Fortune

In 2014, Apple CEO Tim Cook was motivated to publicly address his own sexuality after receiving letters from children who were struggling with their sexual orientation, writing:

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. 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.

Directly addressing those children struggling to find acceptance within themselves and from the outside world, Tim writes, “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, that it’s God’s greatest gift.”

Being gay gives me a deeper understanding of being in the minority and challenges other minorities deal with. It’s made me more empathetic, leading to a richer life. It’s been tough and uncomfortable, but it has given me the confidence to be myself, follow my own path, and rise above adversity and bigotry. It’s also given me the skin of a rhinoceros, which comes in handy when you’re CEO of Apple. 

For leaders to build organizations that are truly inclusive, they must strive to create a culture of acceptance in which people like Tim Cook feel no need to hide who they truly are.