Apple CEO Tim Cook reflects on emotional decision to come out as gay

Apple CEO Tim Cook. (Jacopo Raule/Getty Images)

Apple CEO Tim Cook has revealed that he was publicly motivated to come out as gay after receiving letters from children struggling with their sexual orientation.

The 58-year-old came out as gay in 2014, becoming the first openly gay CEO of a Fortune 500 firm as a result.

Five years on, Cook recounted his journey in an interview with People en Español published yesterday – a break from his usual brand of privacy.

Apple CEO inspired to come out after children write in to him.

In the candid interview, the industrial engineer explained that before his decision to come out after he received heart-breaking letters from children grappling to accept themselves.

“What was driving me was [that] I was getting notes from kids who were struggling with their sexual orientation,” he said.

“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.

Tim Cook opens the door of the newly renovated Apple Store at Fifth Avenue. (KENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images)

“From there I really decided.”

Cook admitted he “didn’t worry” about how his staff would react to his coming out, but was weary of how those “outside of Apple” would respond.

He noted that “the world is not friendly to gay or trans people in many countries but also within our country [the US]”.

Tim Cook to any child struggling with their sexuality: ‘It gets better.’

In a touching moment, Cook addressed not only the children who penned letters to him, but to any young person wrestling with their identity: “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.”

Furthermore, Cook added that being gay has given him a way to peak above the parapet and understand how people really feel.

He said: “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.”