Cook, who was hired personally by none other than tech god Steve Jobs, has been with Apple since 1998, and took over as CEO in 2011, shortly before Jobs died due to complications from cancer. Cook publicly came out as gay in 2014, the first CEO of a Fortune 500 company to do so.
Cook’s speech, like so much in politics these days, took a bit of artistic license with the “facts”: for instance, he praises the work of HRC President Chad Griffin while listing the major LGBT accomplishments of recent years, including the Supreme Court decision for marriage equality. Slow down there, Cookie. That big win was not really a result of HRC, which is primarily involved in legislative matters; that victory was fought and won in the judicial system, after years of work by organizations such as ACLU and Lambda Legal, as well as Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders—a.k.a. GLAD, which had one of its lawyers argue the actual case on the floor of the Supreme Court. Although HRC did invent the red and pink equal signs that people posted all over Facebook. And they are cute, so thanks to them for that.
Cook’s speech was otherwise lovely, sincere and humble, sprinkled with delicious bits of activist poetry, such as “Together, we will pave the sunlit path to justice.” Imagine working for Apple and getting emails from him.
Cook mentioned the most significant aspect to his choice to be publicly out: the LGBT glass ceiling, and how people may presume they will encounter discrimination so they may hold themselves back, rather than risk fighting for success. “People need to hear that being gay is not a limitation,” he said. “People need to hear that being gay doesn’t restrict your options in life. People need to hear you can be gay or transgender, and be whatever else you want to in life.” This includes being a zillionaire CEO of one of the world’s most beloved brands. Not too shabby.
Watch Cook’s speech here: