New Apple CEO Tim Cook: Gay Icon?
12:08 pm, August 25th | by Hillary Reinsberg
When Steve Jobs stepped down yesterday, Apple’s Tim Cook became “the most powerful gay man in America,” some would say. Officially, Cook has never announced his homosexuality, but that didn’t stop Out magazine from naming him America’s #1 Power Gay and various LGBT-minded news sources from touting him as a leading role model for the gay community. So, will Cook be a trailblazer for high-powered gay executives? And will this historically private person be forced to officially come out of the closet once he’s thrown into the public sphere?
LGBT-site Queerty says, essentially, it’s not a big deal, that everyone at Apple thinks it’s not a big deal, and that it won’t affect the company at all. The guy has done a good job as a leader while keeping his private life private, and can continue to do so:
“Cook lives in the glass closet as he has never publicly acknowledged his homosexuality (even though Apple executives have said that they would continue to back him if he did). However the executives also worry that his coming out could affect people’s perception of the Apple brand. Would an openly gay CEO sink the company’s stock? It seems unlikely, as the world’s focus has remained on Jobs’ product innovation and the CEO’s ability to steer the company in good health rather than on his private life. Cook’s keeping his orientation out of the spotlight suggests that he will continue to do the same as CEO.”
At the same time, though, they say, he could come out more publicly, and use his stature to in fact become a role model for the gay community:
“Cook could wield his mighty influence behind the scenes to create some very positive changes for the entire queer community, Apple users or no. First, he could get Apple to create clear guidelines for its mixed treatment of gay content on the App Store. He could also offer incentives for media outlets and developers to create more LGBT friendly content.”
Yes, he could make elements of his private life more public and share his sexual orientation with the world and hopefully create more openness and acceptance. Or will he simply be forced to? Gawker, in an earlier profile of Cook, argued that the CEO of Apple is a “cultural icon” and that anyone who takes on that role will become a public figure, whether they like it or not:
Cook, who is running Apple in Jobs’ absence, has been as reticent to acknowledge his sexual orientation as he has his prowess in overseeing the company supply chain. But as Jobs fades back, and as his absences grow more prolonged and uncertain, Cook will become, by necessity, a public figure. Apple is no longer a 1980′s-style computer company, segregated from broader society. Apple is one of the most powerful players in industries like publishing, music, movies, internet services, advertising, mobile communications and, of course, computer hardware and software. And the company and its leader have become cultural icons.
Or perhaps, as LGBT Nation implies, we’re all making too many assumptions. They argue, quite fairly, that if and when Cook publicly says he’s gay, he will indeed become both an icon and role model for members of the LGBT community around the world:
If Cook — often described as the genius behind Jobs and a key to the success of Apple’s operations — is in fact gay, and comes out publicly, he would instantly become the most recognizable role model for LGBT people in the corporate world.