I had a completely different post planned for today but then I woke up this morning, checked my twitter account and saw Tim Cook had finally confirmed what a lot of people knew already – that he is gay.
A quick analysis of the twitter chatter revealed opinion was divided into a number of distinct camps.
- Who cares?
- It’s his own business – we don’t need to know.
- The CEO of Apple is gay – should we boycott their products.
Let me deal with number four first. I’m sure this type of thinking is one of the reasons why Tim Cook felt it necessary to say something. It demonstrates just how much bigotry still exists in the world and how something as inherent and harmless as a human being’s sexual preference can be held against them. It’s a guarantee that these bigots are buying other products made by gay hands, they are being served food in restaurants cooked by gay chefs and are being nursed back to health by gay nurses and doctors. So if they want to deny themselves Apple products because Tim Cook is gay – then they should go right ahead and do that. However, if the sexual orientation of the people involved in making products is the basis upon whether these bigots buy those products or not then they might soon find themselves with nothing to buy.
At the other end of the spectrum were those who applauded and congratulated Tim, recognizing the bravery and importance of his decision to openly admit to being a gay man. You’ll find me in this category.
And then we had the “who cares” and the “we don’t need to know” crew. Now I am the first person to respect a person’s privacy and I know plenty of gay people who have chosen not to reveal the fact they are gay, usually not for their own benefit but to protect loved ones from any sort of recrimination. I’m sure Tim Cook struggled with his decision from the point of view that his sexual orientation is a deeply personal thing, after all you don’t get heterosexual CEOs announcing what their sexual preferences are. However, as the man himself said, “if hearing that the Apple CEO 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.” It is important and if it helps others then we do need to know.
I watched so many of my gay friends struggle with despair over the years and the only way I knew how to help them was to give them my unquestionable support. All of their stories have stayed with me and finally found release in my novella Over Your Dead Body, in which, coincidentally the main protagonist has made his money via I.T. and investing in tech companies. It’s a story very dear to my heart and one in which in my own infinitesimal way I hope to have also laid a brick along the sunlit and multi-coloured path towards acceptance and justice for all.