Apple CEO Tim Cook says that he chose to come out as gay because “people need to hear that being gay is not a limitation,” Re/code reports.
Cook was speaking at the Human Rights Campaign awards dinner on October 3 in Washington DC. He was there to accept the Human Rights Campaign Visibility Award, which was presented to him in recognition of his work to support the LGBT community.
The Apple CEO gave an emotional speech which lasted for over 10 minutes. In the speech he said that he “wanted to lend my voice to people who might not be ready to exercise theirs.”
Cook also remarked on the number of people at the dinner who were using iPhones to take photos of him. “I love to see the iPhones, thank you!” he joked.
Back in October 2014, Cook chose to came out as gay and published an essay in Businessweek. “While I have never denied my sexuality,” Cook said. “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.”
There had been many rumours about Cook’s sexuality before his Businessweek essay. Out Magazine publicly named Cook as the most powerful gay person in America back in 2011. And CNBC accidentally outed Cook in June 2014 when a guest mentioned Cook’s sexuality before he had made it public. “Oh dear, was that an error?” the host asked after his statement resulted in an awkward silence.
Here’s the section of the speech about why Cook came out as gay, as transcribed by Re/code:
I wrote an essay that was deeply personal. I wanted to lend my voice to people who might not be ready to exercise theirs. It was an open letter to the public, but it was addressed most of all to everyone who had been rejected by their friends, their communities, or even their families simply because of who they are. I’ll tell you I did not do it for attention. I’m a private person by nature. Growing up I was taught that you distinguish yourself in life by what you do, not by what you say or by how loudly you say it. But sometimes you just have to be loud. People need to hear that being gay is not a limitation. People need to hear that being gay doesn’t restrict your options in life. People need to hear that you can be gay or transgender and be whatever else you want to in life.
Watch the full speech here: