Tim Cook Made a Rare Statement About His Personal Life When He Came Out

Does Tim Cook have a partner? Learn about the Apple CEO’s personal life, including the reasons behind his groundbreaking 2014 coming-out.

Dan Clarendon - Author

Jan. 25 2022, Published 4:26 a.m. ET

Tim Cook
Source: Getty Images

Tim Cook is so private about his personal life, the public doesn’t even know if he has a partner. Various sources say the Apple CEO is single and has never married. And in Aug. 2015, after then-Cisco executive chairman John Chambers likened an Apple-Cisco partnership to matrimony, Cook reportedly quipped, “I can’t talk about marriage much.”

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But Cook did get personal in Oct. 2014, when he publicly came out in a Bloomberg Businessweek column, becoming the first openly gay CEO of a Fortune 500 company. “I realize how much I’ve benefited from the sacrifice of others,” he wrote then. “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.”

Cook came out after realizing he was valuing his privacy “too far above what I could do for other people”

tim cook
Source: Getty Images

When Cook appeared on The Late Show nearly a year later, host Stephen Colbert brought up the CEO’s coming-out. “Was that an upgrade or just a feature that had not been turned on before?” Colbert quipped. But the TV funnyman was actually interested in how Cook’s sexuality informed his charitable efforts at Apple, and Cook responded by quoting a Martin Luther King, Jr., quote that had become a mantra for him: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, what are you doing for others?”

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Cook went on: “It became so clear to me that kids were getting bullied at school, kids were getting basically discriminated against, kids were even being disclaimed by their own parents—and that I needed to do something. And where I valued my privacy significantly, I felt that I was valuing it too far above what I could do for other people. And so, I wanted to tell everyone my truth.”

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He said being gay is “a feature,” not a limitation

In Oct. 2019, five years after he came out, Cook spoke about that historic moment with People en Español editor-in-chief Armando Correa. During that conversation, Correa asked about the Alabama native’s assertion in the Bloomberg Businessweek column that being gay is “among the greatest gifts” that God had given him.

Cook elaborated on that point, saying, “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. … I’m not saying that I understand the trials and tribulations of every minority group, because I don’t. But I do 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 also revealed that parents had reached out to him to express worries about that their gay children’s sexuality doomed them to unhappiness. “My message to them is that it doesn’t have to be like that,” Cook said. “It starts with them because if they treat their child with respect and dignity, just like we treat each other, then that child can do anything they want, including [being] the CEO of Apple, or to be the president or whatever they want. Being gay is not a limitation. It’s a feature.”


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