Tim Cook, Apple CEO: ‘You Can Do Good In This World And Be Gay,’ Cook Reveals Inspiration For Coming Out Publicly As Gay

Tim Cook sat down with the Washington Post in an extended two-part interview. Apple’s top executive offered much insight into how he’s handled big decisions and changes within the company. Cook also reveals his inspiration for writing an op-ed, publicly coming out as gay.

CNN anchor, Anderson Cooper, was a great source of support and inspiration when Cook decided to write his op-ed. Cook says he admired how Cooper handled his own decision to come out publicly in 2012. Cook says he thought about what to write in the op-ed for an entire year before publishing it. In the op-ed he wrote in 2014, he declared the following.

“I’m proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me.”

The Washington Post inquires about Cook’s mindset while writing the famous op-ed.

Who were you thinking about when you decided to write the op-ed where you publicly came out as gay?

“I was thinking about kids. I was getting notes from kids who knew I was gay, or assumed I was, because of something they had read on the Web. And they were kids who were distraught. Some had been pushed out by their families. They thought they couldn’t achieve anything. They couldn’t do anything. They were seeing the national discourse around it and feeling isolated and depressed. And I just thought — I’ve got to do something.”

Cook tells the Washington Post he did not want others to feel their sexual orientation was a limiter.

“I thought it would minimally say you can do pretty good in this world and be gay. That it’s not a limiter. It’s okay to be. That it’s okay to be honest about it. I figured if I could help one person, it would be worth it.”

Cook continues, “It had been planned for quite a long time. It was not something that was done in a moment, by any means. It was probably a year. Just thinking through what to say, how to say it, where to say it, how to do that in a way that advanced what I was trying to do.”

“I wanted it to be in a business [publication]. That’s what I know, that’s who I am. There was a lot of work there. I visited people. I talked to Anderson Cooper at length — multiple times. Because I thought that the way that he handled his announcement was really classy. I was getting advice from people who I thought were really great people who had really deeply thought about it.”

In the essay, Cook says he was open to many people about his sexual orientation including Apple employees.

“Plenty of colleagues at Apple know I’m gay, and it doesn’t seem to make a difference in the way they treat me.”

Cook never denied his sexuality, yet he never publicly spoke about it either. The Apple CEO cites Dr. Martin Luther King.

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’ I often challenge myself with that question, and I’ve come to realize that my desire for personal privacy has been holding me back from doing something more important.”

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[Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]

On Succeeding Steve Jobs

When Cook took over as Apple’s CEO, Cook expected Steve Jobs, his predecessor, would be around for a while as a chairman and advisor. Cook explains to the Washington Post that he convinced himself that Jobs would bounce back, “because he always did.” Cook maintains he wasn’t prepared to lose Jobs so quickly.

“To me, Steve’s not replaceable. By anyone. [Voice softens] He was an original of a species. I never viewed that was my role. I think it would have been a treacherous thing if I would have tried to do it. When I first took the job as CEO, I actually thought that Steve would be here for a long time. Because he was going to be chairman, work a bit less after he came back up the health curve. So I went into it with one thought, and then weeks later — six weeks later, whatever.”

On Successors

If anything went wrong, Cook said he is already looking for someone he could appoint to take over. Interestingly enough, Tim says he talks about who might succeed him at the end of every board meeting.

“We have the good discipline to do that. Then my role is to make sure that the board has great candidates to pick from internally. And I take that role extremely seriously. Look around at the great people I get to work with — there’s some really just superb talent in the company.”

[Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]