Apple CEO Tim Cook: ‘I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me’

“For years, I’ve been open with many people about my sexual orientation. Plenty of colleagues at Apple know I’m gay, and it doesn’t seem to make a difference in the way they treat me,” Tim Cook writes for Businessweek. “Of course, I’ve had the good fortune to work at a company that loves creativity and innovation and knows it can only flourish when you embrace people’s differences. Not everyone is so lucky.”

“While I have never denied my sexuality, I haven’t publicly acknowledged it either, until now,” Cook 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.”

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

Much more in the full article here.

Related articles:
Apple joins Gay Pride parade in Austin, Texas – September 21, 2014
Apple releases video highlighting employee participation in San Francisco’s LGBT Pride Parade – July 8, 2014
Tim Cook, Apple employees march in LGBT Pride Parade in San Francisco – June 30, 2014
Apple inviting employees to march in annual San Francisco LGBT Pride Parade – May 7, 2014
Apple donates $100,000 to fight same-sex marriage ban in California (Proposition 8) – October 24, 2008

211 Comments

      1. I am replying here so my comments are near the top.

        Obviously, Mr. Cook understands and has a proper attitude about God and the challenges He gives each one of us. There are many that have been given what seems to be, and many times is, unfair circumstances and good for those that can overcome those challenges and persevere.

        Keep up the good work, Mr. Cook.

        1. Well said. i wonder if anyone understands the blinding pressure a prominent CEO experiences. My father tried to explain it to me. He said leadership is either of the Chamberlain variety, or of the Churchill variety. You either cave in to outsiders, or hold to a principle you were born with.

    1. I don’t consider being black a gift. I consider it highly educational. I consider living in this country the greatest “gift” I’ve ever been given. Though being an atheist, it’s all just accidental. There was no “giving.”

      1. Thelonius… I agree with 90+% of your postings, but we sometimes don’t see eye to eye. But in this case, I would give you 6 STARS if MDN allowed!! So much spoken in such short comment.

          1. For me the tension was so extreme i could not bear to witness that contest at all. Still can not believe the outcome, and that man — Madison is a girl’s name but he doesn’t throw like one. 🙂

      2. All children are born agnostic and are indoctrinated into the faith of their parents. Atheists and agnostics just rediscover what is apparent to any thinking person.

        Being an American is certainly better than living in some other countries- but not all by any means. I wish America would live up to it’s potential and not down to the lowest common denominator.

        I had the great fortune to have a Gay roommate my Freshman year of college and a Gay roommate during my time in the Army. Living with someone informs you in a way you cannot read in a book, and it showed me the bullshit church taught about GLBTQ people is nonsense.

        Cannot speak to being African-American or Black as I am not a person of color. Sadly, I am the descendant of slave holders in South Carolina- the old Plantation house was a B&B the last time I checked online.

          1. I don’t really claim to know the personal reasons for someone to turn to organised religion, but I can say that at least some of the people who were for a good part of their atheists end up turning to some religion is do this as they grow older and begin to experience the basic fear of death. In a way, they are hedging their bets; the reality that you cease to exist at the moment of death becomes scarier and scarier as that moment approaches, and faith provides a narrative that allows you to mitigate those fears by allowing for a possibility that your consciousness may continue to exist beyond the physical death of your body. I have personally met several older adults who were quite comfortable atheists for the whole of their adult life, and have slowly been turning to organised religion (in all those cases, the predominant one of their community, be it Christianity or Islam, as was the case), with the sole casual explanation: “What if there IS afterlife?”

            1. Also, we have to remember that evolution, as a theory itself, is evolving and changing. The methods and specifics of even major mechanisms of evolution are debated and agreed on. It’s not this universal theory of oneness and unity that all scientists agree on. When you consider this, and when you personally see personal agendas and hypocrisy in the ranks of science over a lifetime, it’s not hard to imagine why some choose to eschew the popular opinion that the universe came about by chance. Perhaps they are the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes…

            2. If they need the sense of security, then that’s fine.

              But I hope fear of death will never be a reason for me changing my view of the universe.

              To use a war-time analogy, in a situation where death may come at any time, I believe there have been many atheists in foxholes.

          2. How is it that married people with children later come out as Gay? Same answer applies- they were gay all along and it took them some time to figure things out.

            To put things in a Christian context:
            1 John 2:19King James Version (KJV)

            19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.

        1. “Sadly, I am the descendant of slave holders…” LMFAO. Dude, seriously how brainwashed can anyone possibly be! You are wallowing in a past that is only relevant in your mind because you make it so. GET OVER IT. YOU ARE NOT A SLAVE OWNER and that is all that matters to any rational human being. No one, absolutely no one cares about your ancestors. As a black person, I sure as hell don’t. Big whoop.

          And while you’re at it, drop the trite, insulting, nauseating “person of color” BS because it makes you sound like a complete ass.

          Don’t you see? That crap is a round about way of ascribing importance to yourself. “Oh look at me and all my white guilt. I’m so ‘evolved.’ ”

          It’s comical!!

          And BTW, Let me explain what makes this country so great.

          This country has the unique distinction of being the only country that was designed, literally from the ground up. It is the greatest experiment in social engineering that has ever existed. It didn’t simply come into existence. It was designed, engineered, created, and built. The revolution did not start with the first soldier to die, it started in the minds of great men, long long before the 1770s.

          The founders, acting more like programmers, built a “machine” and incorporated into it algorithms from great minds like John Locke and Plato. As far as I am concerned, John Locke was the Steve Jobs of country design! America is indeed the invention of great British thinkers!

          This country is above all else, a system.

          Like any other system it had and still has bugs. Designed into the country, though, was a debugger. A debugger so effective, that this country, in a mere fraction of the time that it took other great countries, has eliminated serious flaws like institutional and actionable racism and sexism. Sure there are racists and sexists still out there but they are irrelevant. They are nothing but remnants, echoes of bugs that have been eliminated. Residual errors.

          The debugging system is manifested in the Constitution, which empowers the people and protects the people from themselves in the form of The Government! It even fixes itself if need be! The country is phenomenal.

          Now we as special interest groups have tried to break it throughout history, but it continues to fix itself. We keep trying to break it, and it keeps fixing itself, in favor of the characteristics the founders thought vital, most importantly, freedom. In particular, individual freedoms, and natural rights to life, liberty, property, and prosperity.

          That is what is astonishing to me. America is the Macintosh of countries! Others have imitated her, but they’ve only achieved Windows or Android like similarity.

          Pointing out that you are descended of slave owners is like pointing out that there were bugs in Mac OS version 1. Who cares?

          You are who you are and that is all that is important! You’re obviously not a hater, you obviously care a lot about justice and equality, and to that end, whatever your great, great, great grand pappy did is his effin’ problem. Not yours. Welcome to the 21st century!

          1. I think Darwin Evolved was just being polite and its generally good writing to use synonyms for the same concept when referred to twice, just to not be boring. I.e. “Black” then “person of color” in the same sentence.

            But your comment on Locke and Constitutional programming was great. I have thought about the Constitution like a country OS for sometime.

            If I were to upgrade the constitution, the only two things I would change are:

            (1) Balanced budget amendment. Get rid of 90% of the damage of misspent money. I.e. less money misspent and what was at least would not result in debt. Also, less money for anyone from left or right, individual or corporation, to fight over, so less interest-group oriented politics and corruption.

            (2) Give term limits to parties as the Constitution limited power between branches, but never addressed parties so they have become the place where power consolidates, giving individuals very little real choice. Say any party can only take 25% of Senate/House seats, and only hold onto the same seat for 3 terms or as long as the incumbent wins (to allow quality people to stay in office).

            Then like any OS programmer I would not make any further changes for 100 years to let those improvements play out.

            1. I agree with the need for some limited OS upgrades, but balanced budget would not be one of them, for a couple of reasons. It would be very hard to fight a war on a pay-as-you-go basis. You just have to go all out and get it done, like the first Gulf war. The wars of empire should not happen anyway.

              I would modify the party term limit idea to individual term limits. The US is not set up for a parliamentary system with coalition governments. Parties can’t be created out of thin air and the existing ones change over time. There are about five major versions of the GOP, Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Eisenhower, Reagan and today. I could go for the right individual in three out of five eras. Today is not one of them. Structuring the rule to protect incumbents seems unwise

              A change to the OS I would make would be to systemize the establishment of Congressional District boundaries. The current safe-seat gerrymandering system subverts the will of the people, IMHO.

              I would also bring back the original Constitutional Congressional pay scale. It was limited to reimbursement for travel and lodging expenses while Congress was in session. The current bunch of bandits get immediate elevation to the top decile of US income upon election. For most of them its the best job they’ll ever hope to get and its no wonder they’re willing to do anything to keep it. And there is no process for the American people to call them on it. Talk about welfare queens. It starts at the top.

              While we’re at it, lets limit the time Congress is in session to no more than 90 days per year. They’ve proven they don’t do anything anyway and they don’t need much time to do it.

              I can see Im headed down a slippery slope here. Back to the topic, I’m glad MrCook decided to go public. Best way to disarm the back-stabbing whisperers.

              Anyway, good thoughts.

            2. Don’t think a balanced budget can happen. That’s why it is not in the Constitution. With a balanced budget there would be no growth and there would be less money in the system as the U.S. population increases. That’s why we are off the gold standard. We could not mine enough gold to keep up with our population.

              Think about it. Where did the money in your savings account come from? It came from government over-spending. That is the mechanism to infuse cash into the system, aka the market.

          2. Very well stated (as usual for you).

            Just to use myself as an example. I am mixed race (mostly black/white).

            My white ancestors not only owned slaves, but at least one of them was arrested and convicted for horrible abuse and atrocities against slaves. Given the time and place this occurred, means this guy was really a bad guy.

            My girlfriend is a direct descendent of a famous southern civil war figure. The fame of which ran in the family all the way to her generation (she used to get contacted by historians and civil war re-en-actors).

            Heck, even the home I live in has a very racist past. The home owners association contract that I had to sign banned all non-white racists from living in anything but a servant’s house. This was later changed via amendment to the contract, but only because of (and well after) the civil rights act.

            The point is… I am who I am. The people of the past are history.

          3. No bleeding heart here, I am not ashamed for what my ancestors did. I am ashamed that our country was built on stolen labor (indentured servants, slaves), stolen land (the bulk of North America was stolen from native peoples), genocide (the systemic destruction of native peoples) and that we are in active denial of those facts.

            The America we have today is far different from what the founders wished and that is both a good and a bad thing.

          4. TLM.
            No reason for such harsh comeback. It only make you look like an Angry person and contradicts what you are preaching !

            Darwin E was being polite and stating his opinion and perspective !

          5. America is the invention of British thinkers?

            Guess the Revolutionary War, Washington crossing the Delaware and the authors of the U.S. Constitution meant nothing in the formation of this country?

            I THINK NOT!

          6. Thelonius, we think much alike. Even if I am a true believer in Christ and you are an atheist. We need to drop the past, judge the present, and plan for the future (personal future, societal future, environmental future). Whether you are a believer or not – it is the same.

            I also agree with Cook, that diversity makes us stronger, however as long as we have some basic common morals. Like “all men/women are created equal.”

            Every single one of us started with an egg and a sperm, and we developed in a womb. The genes that we share in common are so close to 100% that it is mind boggling. From science, we are all family.

            From my faith: we are all sons and daughters of God, in short we are family – all of us!

          7. It’s a damn shame Obama is our first black President and not you Theionious Mac! So many brilliant Black men (and women) in this country and we got stuck with him in “The House.”

        2. You cast a pretty wide net of intolerance making blanket statements like that. Some very ‘thinking’ people have come to the conclusion that evidence points to a creator. There are, in fact, a number of scientists that don’t “come out” openly and express their conclusions on the origins of life, for reasons that should be obvious.

      3. There are two issues being raised in your comment, Thelonious, and I think it is worth keeping them separate. First, is his sexual orientation something that Tim Cook should hide out of shame? You and I agree that it is not. It’s his personal business that only has a political dimension because society has made it so… like being a person of color.

        Second, can he regard his orientation as a gift from God? We differ on that one. It seems as if most of the posters below agree with you that he can’t, either because homosexuality is a curse or because there is no God to give anyone a gift.

        I—and I think an increasing number of Christians and other persons of faith—differ with either common response to that second question. We are as religious as anyone else (Cook, like me, grew up in the South, where it is hard to avoid absorbing the Bible into your bones). We believe that people are creatures of God (that is to say, we have been created by God and endowed by our Creator with many gifts). I regard my sexual orientation towards the opposite sex as a gift which has enabled me to share my life with a wonderful woman.

        I find it hard to believe that it is not a gift for my gay and lesbian fellow believers when they find an equally rewarding relationship. Insofar as I understand Pope Francis, he seems to agree. As Genesis puts it, “It is not good for humans to live alone.” If someone does not have the gift of celibacy, it is better that they live in a loving relationship than suffer through a series of pointless encounters.

        Like the Pope, I’m still not altogether happy calling state-sanctioned gay relationships “marriage,” since I think the government should have stayed out of the marriage business entirely and restrained itself to defining civil partnerships for gay and straight alike. That would let religious bodies exercise their constitutional freedom to define the marriage rules for their own members without state interference. Because of the entanglement of Church and State on this issue, it is impossible for the government to make policy about marriage without impacting religious institutions.

        In any case, the opposition that many people seem to see between religion—and specifically traditional Christianity—and equal rights for LGBT folks is not written in stone like the tablets from Sinai. There are a lot of Christian denominations that welcome gay rights, and even more individual congregations, pastors, and believers. If important elements of the leadership in the Roman Catholic Church can develop their thinking on this, anyone can.

        I guess what I’m trying to say is that non-Christians should not try to put all of us believers into the same box.

        1. Oh believe me, I don’t put all believers in the same box, not by a long shot. I’m terribly happy, for instance, that we border Mexico and most of our illegal immigration is Catholic and not Islamic.

          I’m in a funny position. I believe irrational thinking to be the greatest of all evils. The root of all evil if you will. I consider religions to be irrational thinking of the worst sort. There is, however, nothing I can do about it. People have the right to believe whatever they wish to believe. What they don’t necessarily have is the right to act upon others based upon those beliefs.

          I also believe that government should not be making policy about marriage, but by the same token consenting adults should be allowed to marry whomever they wish. This also necessarily means I support polygamy. No way around that gotcha. Heh.

          The beauty of this country is that we will try to support these sub-cultural ideas no matter how much introspective torment it causes us.

          We just have to be careful to not lose track of who we are. And if we remember we are Americans and individuals first, then Christians, then sexual preferences, and so on, we’ll be fine.

          1. Did you notice how mant times you used the word brlief ?
            At the end of the day dont knock belief.
            You dont know the answer .. Nor does anybody else!
            Talking about irrationality … believing one belief is superior to another would qualify as one.
            You also used the word evil… But there is no such thing according to what i have read from you. Things just are… No evil no good, no gifts etcc…. they just are ! Right?
            It is not that simple T.
            The Absoulte truth is unknowable. Beliefs are what we resort to when faced with the unknowable or the unknown ! Hence one of the most powerful forces in human nature and condition !
            Dont knock belief
            And be aware of the distinction between fact and brlief !

        2. 139 posts! Wow, coming out sure still does get a reaction. Tim has done unmeasurable good with this essay and this statement. The quantum effect of this essay will not be traceable.

          For the Christians, the Muslims, the Hindus, etc. you are all in the same box of believers, that’s what belief is: accepting that what is irrational is truth. It is not. It is belief. IF you did not have a direct impact on the life you have now before you had this life, how could you possibly believe you have an impact on the next? Anyway, off topic.

          For all the folks that started paragraphs with the word “I”, was this about you? No. It was about Tim. It is about all the future Tims. It is not a competition about how proud you are to be anything. It is about his awesome leadership. It is about his awesome level of caring about those who might suffer that he has never met. With this essay he seems to have really put into practice the words of Christ: use your talents, choose goodness.

          The only regret I have is that this is news. Someday, one day, I hope this will become irrelevant. It seems to me he is saying don’t define yourself by your sexuality, embrace your sexuality and make it something wonderful. Is a marriage announcement in the near future for Tim? Hard to imagine why else he would do this now. Tim, if you are in love and want to get married, I couldn’t be happier for you. The day I married my husband at 55 years old was the happiest day of my life! May you have that, too. Way to go, Tim.

        3. Totally misinterpreted. But since you have never studied the bible you will believe…….whatever makes you feel good! Which actually is the first law in the book of Satan.

      4. “Ther was no giving , all accidental”
        Maybe better stated as an opinion rather than a fact since the truth is unkowable( at least for now and the foreseeable future)
        Your beliefs render the perspective u have on your life and hence the quality of your life. Very personal and good on you !
        But it is important to realize … Atheism is just another belief system!

    2. I just get so tired of people who are gay having to announce it to the world. DUDE Get on with your life. Only homosexual people feel the need to go have parades and anthems and other crap. Straight people don’t go around having a straight parade every year. We don’t take over Disney world and announce we are STRAIGHT and wear straight shirts.

      Fine if your gay your gay or straight or half way in between or whatever. BUT WE DONT WANT TO KNOW ABOUT IT. Just get on with being CEO and don’t screw it up. You as CEO of apple have allot more you need to be focused on.

      I just don’t understand why gay people have to announce it to the world and the press eats it up. Anymore its just another day in earth. Years ago it was a big deal for someone to say something. Now its like oh yay another one who thinks they have to tell the world about it so they feel good.
      GET ON WITH LIFE and live it and quit running around telling the world about what you do in the bedroom.

    1. Well considered. Well written. Laudable sentiment and goals. My kids are much more comfortable with LGBT people than mine were at the same point in life. There is greater integration and lesser consideration of superficial factors such as skin color that were sources of overt discrimination in previous decades. I am glad for Tim that he has found the strength and will to use his own situation as a catalyst for continued progress. I look forward to the day when this type of declaration is unnecessary, when it would not be “news,” when people embrace the differences among us rather than seeking to differentiate, categorize, and label.

      Peace be with you, Tim Cook. Your compassion for others is a credit to you.

  1. I don’t care if he’s gay or straight.
    But don’t expect me to celebrate it. And I don’t want Apple’s CEO to become a vocal activist for anything other than Apple.

    1. Actually it is really up to him if he chooses to be an “activist” on any matter.

      Apple has always been socially very progressive and vocal about it, long before Cook became CEO. Clearly, Cook’s personal advocacy is in line with Apple’s. Who knows, perhaps together they even might change a few minds on the issue of minority rights, especially gays (since most other minorities have largely attained legal equality).

    2. Nobody should have to limit their life to one role. He, and everyone else, should have as many roles in life as they choose.

      If he is a great CEO, his other dimensions don’t matter. If he is a crappy CEO he should be sacked, regardless of the reasons that caused the craziness, distraction, poor judgement, etc., doesn’t really matter.

      Don’t put limits on people, especially our best people.

      Tim Cook for President! (Kind of joking, he couldn’t do worse than our last two.)

  2. He’s obviously a private person, but good for him for coming out and no doubt helping so many people.

    Describing being gay as being a gift is unusual wording though, only because it kind of implies he thinks it’s better than not being gay. Your sexuality is your sexuality, one is not better than another. Sadly, we’re in a world where this is an issue and people do have to come out in order to help other people, if this helps one person in some way then great.

    A great piece.

    1. We all have our own personal “gifts” that help us be who we are. Cook obviously believes his being gay is beneficial to him. None of us should ever feel the need to be anything less than honest about ourselves. Now he’s doing the same.

      And let’s face it. Although it’s the first time he’s said anything did anyone really not know already?

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