Apple CEO Tim Cook says he doesn’t regret coming out publicly in 2014, calling being gay “God’s greatest gift.”
Cook became the first openly gay CEO of a Fortune 500 company five years ago when he penned an essay discussing his sexuality.
“While I have never denied my sexuality, I haven’t publicly acknowledged it either, until now,” he wrote. “So let me be clear: I’m proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me.”
He reiterated that same sentiment in a recent interview with People en Español, saying that being gay is “not a limitation” and is “God’s greatest gift.”
Asked about his coming out, Cook said he has “not regretted it for one minute. Not at all.”
He noted that he had been “getting notes from kids who were struggling with their sexual orientation.”
“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, adding, “From there I really decided. There’s been a lot of people that came before me that made it possible for me to sit here today, and I needed to do something to help those people that were in a younger generation.”
Cook also reiterated that he ‘strongly believes’ that being gay is a gift from God.
“I think there’s many meanings behind this. One is, it was his decision, not mine,” he said. “Two, at least for me, I can only speak for myself, it gives me a level of empathy that I think is probably much higher than average because being gay or trans, you’re a minority.”
He added that he was “not saying that I understand the trials and tribulations of every minority group, because I don’t,” but said he does 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.”
Cook ultimately wants LGBTQ youth to know that “life gets better.”
“[You] can have a great life filled with joy. Gay is not a limitation,” he said. “It’s a characteristic that I hope they view, like I do, that it’s God’s greatest gift.”
Th 59-year-old, who is also the leader of the first company to be worth $1 trillion, last week accepted the GLSEN Champion Award along with Oscar-winning actress Octavia Spencer.
Cook read one of the letters from LGBTQ people he mentioned during his People interview, from a 67-year-old closeted man in 2014, while accepting his award.
He dedicated the award, presented by the anti-LGBTQ bullying organization, to the letter’s author and congratulated GLSEN for its work over the past three decades, Variety reports.
“GLSEN knows well and has held as its mission for nearly 30 years, that what we learn and what we’re told to value as children can define the course of our lives,” Cook said. “If a teacher, a parent, an authority figure takes time to show kindness, to represent the great diversity of our humanity and to create space for authentic conversations when we’re young, it stays in our hearts forever and it builds better people as a result.”
In 2017, Cook affirmed that Apple — which has long publicly supported the LGBTQ community — was “open to everyone, no matter where they come from, which language they speak, who they love or how they worship.”