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It’s showtime, kids.  Tuesday at the latest, but why wait if you can do it today?

TIM COOK SPEAKS OUT

So the CEO of the world’s most valuable company (Apple’s $625 billion market cap is half again larger than Exxon’s) is gay.  We knew that; but now, writing about it (beautifully) at BloombergBusinessweek, he is proudly and openly gay.  In part:

For years, I’ve been open with many people about my sexual orientation. Plenty of colleagues at Apple know I’m gay, and it doesn’t seem to make a difference in the way they treat me. Of course, I’ve had the good fortune to work at a company that loves creativity and innovation and knows it can only flourish when you embrace people’s differences. Not everyone is so lucky.

While I have never denied my sexuality, I haven’t publicly acknowledged it either, until now. So let me be clear: I’m proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me.

Being gay has given me a deeper understanding of what it means to be in the minority and provided a window into the challenges that people in other minority groups deal with every day. It’s made me more empathetic, which has led to a richer life. It’s been tough and uncomfortable at times, but it has given me the confidence to be myself, to follow my own path, and to rise above adversity and bigotry. It’s also given me the skin of a rhinoceros, which comes in handy when you’re the CEO of Apple.

The world has changed so much since I was a kid. America is moving toward marriage equality, and the public figures who have bravely come out have helped change perceptions and made our culture more tolerant. Still, there are laws on the books in a majority of states that allow employers to fire people based solely on their sexual orientation. There are many places where landlords can evict tenants for being gay, or where we can be barred from visiting sick partners and sharing in their legacies. Countless people, particularly kids, face fear and abuse every day because of their sexual orientation.

I don’t consider myself an activist, but I realize how much I’ve benefited from the sacrifice of others. So if hearing that the CEO of Apple 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. . . .

. . . When I arrive in my office each morning, I’m greeted by framed photos of Dr. King and Robert F. Kennedy. I don’t pretend that writing this puts me in their league. All it does is allow me to look at those pictures and know that I’m doing my part, however small, to help others. We pave the sunlit path toward justice together, brick by brick. This is my brick.

It’s tempting to challenge those who would kill or imprison or simply shun LGBT people — in these 10 countries, homosexuality is punishable by death — to recognize that Apple is possessed by the devil and make them choose: religious purity or their beloved iPhone.  But snark — however righteous it may make us feel — is probably not the best way to reach people.

I was struck by two lines this past week that counsel a different approach.

Speaking to a black-tie audience of 3,500 at the Human Rights Campaign dinner in Washington last Saturday night, President Clinton said, softly and simply: “No human heart is immune to an honest outreach.”

And speaking to a one-night-only audience Monday of many of the folks who’ve helped with bricks of their own, David Mixner (who persuaded Governor Ronald Reagan to oppose the Briggs Amendment and who got himself arrested in front of the Clinton White House protesting Don’t Ask Don’t Tell), said: “We need to try and get those who disagree with us to join us, not tell them off for not agreeing with us.  They’re our neighbors.”

In the meantime, though, we need to (lovingly) vote them out of office.

Have a great weekend.

 

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