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Apple CEO Tim Cook is proud to be gay, hopes his openness can help others

Apple CEO Tim Cook has, for the first time, publicly spoken out about being gay. In a piece published by Bloomberg Businessweek, Cook says he has always “tried to maintain a basic level of privacy,” and doesn’t “seek to draw attention” to himself. However, he says this “desire for personal privacy” has held him back from doing something important.

“For years,” he says, “I’ve been open with many people about my sexual orientation,” and goes on to say he is not treated any differently by those at Apple who know, and is fortunate to work in a company which “loves creativity and innovation, and knows it can only flourish when you embrace people’s differences.”

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Cook understands not everyone is so lucky, and it’s this which has motivated him to make a statement. “I’m proud to be gay,” he says. “It has been tough and uncomfortable at times, but it has given me the confidence to be myself.”

The purpose of his announcement becomes clearer later on. He says if hearing the CEO of Apple is gay can help someone struggling to come to terms with who he or she is, “then it’s worth the trade-off with my own privacy.” He quips that being gay has given him the “skin of a rhinoceros, which comes in handy when you’re the CEO of Apple.”

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He also talks about Apple’s stand for human rights and equality for all, and promises it’ll continue to “fight for its values,” and adds that he believes any Apple CEO would do the same. However, what Cook doesn’t want is for his openness about being gay to become a defining point. He points out he is an “engineer, an uncle, a nature lover, a fitness nut, a son of the South, a sports fanatic, and many other things.” He hopes “People will respect my desire to focus on the things I’m best suited for and the work that brings me joy.”