How Anderson Cooper Helped Apple CEO Tim Cook Come Out As Gay

tim cook anderson cooper
Tim Cook (l), photo by Valery Marchive (LeMagIT) and Anderson Cooper (r), photo by Craig ONeal on Flickr. CC 2.0.

Apple‘s Tim Cook said Anderson Cooper had an important influence on his decision to come out as gay, which he did in 2014, making him the first CEO of a Fortune 500 company to do so.

Cook spoke with the Washington Post in a wide ranging interview on Saturday, and answered questions about his coming out process. Cook says it took about a year.

Related: See The Exact Moment Anderson Cooper Realized His Mother Had A Lesbian Affair

“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,” Cook said.

“I wanted it to be in a business [publication]. That’s what I know, that’s who I am,” Cook continued. “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.”

Cooper came out in 2012 in an email exchange with his friend, gay libertarian blogger Andrew Sullivan. Cooper explained that he wanted to maintain some privacy for personal and professional reasons, such as to keep himself and those he works with safe while reporting from dangerous places.

“I have found that sometimes the less an interview subject knows about me, the better I can safely and effectively do my job as a journalist,” he added.

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But his concerns for what message he might be unintentionally sending prompted his coming out.

“Recently, however, I’ve begun to consider whether the unintended outcomes of maintaining my privacy outweigh personal and professional principle. It’s become clear to me that by remaining silent on certain aspects of my personal life for so long, I have given some the mistaken impression that I am trying to hide something—something that makes me uncomfortable, ashamed or even afraid. This is distressing because it is simply not true,” he wrote.

When asked who he was thinking of when he decided to write the op-ed in which he came out, Cook said he was thinking of LGBTQ 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,” he said.

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“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,” Cook wrote in his op-ed.

Cooper also mentioned the bullying of young people as one of his motivations for going public with his orientation.

“I thought it would minimally say you can do pretty good in this world and be gay,” Cook told the Washington Post. “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.”

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