The Apple CEO, 58, reflected on his journey to living authentically last week at the 2019 GLSEN Respect Awards in Los Angeles. Cook was on hand to accept GLSEN’s Champion Award in recognition of his “ongoing commitment to fighting for LGBTQ rights and creating safe spaces for members of the LGBTQ community.”
Fittingly, Cook shared messages he’d received from people from around the world who’d thanked him after he opened up about his sexuality for the first time publicly in a 2014 essay published by Bloomberg Businessweek.
“It was my hope that pulling back that curtain on my own private life would help someone, anyone out there,” he told the star-studded crowd, which included “Mean Girls” actor Jonathan Bennett and another one of the night’s honorees, Octavia Spencer. “I truly did not expect the response I received in the days, weeks and years that followed.”
One such note, Cook explained, came from a 62-year-old closeted gay man who has been married to a woman for 28 years and “repressed, suppressed [and] denied” his true self.
“I fought acknowledging who I was because it was not the way things should be,” he said, reading from the man’s letter. “It makes me happy to know that there are others who are struggling who will give up the struggle and not travel the road that I chose.”
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