It’s been five years since Apple CEO made the emotional decision to publicly come out as gay. Fast-forward to the present, in a candid interview with People en Español, the 58-year-old CEO of the world’s most popular Fortune 500 firm reflected on the reasons that drove him to step into the public eye on
such a private matter.
Cook became the first openly gay CEO of a Fortune 500 company in 2014, but what lead to him coming out was receiving countless of heart-breaking letters from children who expressed deep issues with grappling to accept themselves.
“What was driving me was [that] I was getting notes from kids who were struggling with their sexual orientation,” explained the industrial engineer.
“They were depressed. Some said [they] had suicidal thoughts. Some had been banished by their own parents and family.
“It weighed on me in terms of what I could do,” he continued.
“Obviously I couldn’t talk to each one individually that reached out, but you always know if you have people reaching out to you that there’s many more that don’t, that are just out there wondering whether they have a future or not, wondering whether life gets better. From there I really decided.”
Cook admits not worrying about what the staff at Apple would think of him, but he was weary of the reception from outside of Apple. Noting that, “the world is not friendly to gay or trans people in many countries but also within our country [the US]”
Cook took a moment to address those children who wrote letters to him, and to any other young person out there struggling to come to terms with their identity, telling them: “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, [as]
God’s greatest gift.”
In fact, Cook equated being gay to having some kind of a superpower, allowing him to understand how people really feel.
“I’m not saying that I understand the trials and tribulations of every minority group, because I don’t. But I do understand for one of the groups. And to the degree that it helps give you a lens on how other people may feel. I think that’s a gift in and of itself.”