Felix Salmon: Don’t ignore (Apple's) Tim Cook’s sexuality

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    Aug 26, 2011 2:37 PM GMT
    http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2011/08/25/dont-ignore-tim-cooks-sexuality/

    Tim Cook is now the most powerful gay man in the world. This is newsworthy, no? But you won’t find it reported in any legacy/mainstream outlet. And when the FT‘s Tim Bradshaw did no more than broach the subject in a single tweet, he instantly found himself fielding a barrage of responses criticizing him from so much as mentioning the subject. Similarly, when Gawker first reported Cook’s sexuality in January, MacDailyNews called their actions “petty, vindictive, and just plain sad.”

    But surely this is something we can and should be celebrating, if only in the name of diversity — that a company which by some measures the largest and most important in the world is now being run by a gay man. Certainly when it comes to gay role models, Cook is great: he’s the boring systems-and-processes guy, not the flashy design guru, and as such he cuts sharply against stereotype. He’s like Barney Frank in that sense: a super-smart, powerful and non-effeminate man who shows that being gay is no obstacle to any career you might want.

    One of the issues here is that most news outlets cover Cook as part of their Apple story, and Cook’s sexuality is irrelevant to his role at Apple. And so the other story — the fact that the ranks of big-company CEOs have just become significantly more diverse — is being overlooked and ignored. And that’s bad for the gay and lesbian community more broadly.

    The institution of the closet is one of fear — one where people would rather be ignored than noticed, because they fear the negative repercussions of being known to be gay. It’s an institution which Cook, like any gay man born in 1960, knows at first hand. But now the risk of being ignored is bigger in the other direction: if the world can’t see gay men and women in all their true diversity, if the only homosexuals they know of are the flamboyant ones on TV, then that only serves to perpetuate stereotypes.

    As the Apple story moves away from being about Steve Jobs and becomes much more about Tim Cook, we’re going to see a lot of coverage of Cook, the man. He is, after all, not just one of the most powerful gay men in the world; he’s one of the most powerful people in the world, period. The first instinct of many journalists writing about Cook will be to ignore the issue of his sexuality. It’s not germane to his job, they’re only writing about him because of the job he holds, and therefore they shouldn’t write about it.

    On top of that, Cook is not exactly open about his sexuality, and Apple has never said anything about it. Cook’s formative years, professionally speaking, were the 12 years he spent at IBM between 1982 and 1994 — and at that company, in those days, coming out was contraindicated from a career-development perspective. Mike Fuller, a gay VP at IBM, told the Advocate in 2001 that he knew “IBM employees who worked for the company in the 1980s who told me they left IBM because they weren’t comfortable coming out at work”; this comes as little surprise. After all, the years that Cook spent at straight-laced IBM coincided with the height of the AIDS panic, when people were worried about sharing toilet seats with homosexuals. It would be hard to come out at any company in that kind of atmosphere.

    But thankfully we’ve moved a very long way from those days. Homosexuality is no longer something shameful, to be coy or secretive about — especially not when you’ve risen to the very top of your profession. In fact, it’s incumbent upon a public-company CEO not to be in the closet.

    Four years ago — a long time itself, in the history of gay rights and public acceptance thereof — John Browne resigned as CEO of BP under a shameful cloud. The reason for his downfall was not that he was gay, but rather that he was in the closet. As I explained at the time, in trying desperately to remain comfortably in the closet, he ended up lying repeatedly to the UK High Court – and that is why he had to resign.

    Back then, there were no public-company CEOs on Out magazine’s gay power list; this year, Cook topped the list even before he became CEO of Apple. Keeping his sexuality a secret is no longer an option. And so the press shouldn’t treat it as though it’s something to be avoided at all costs. There’s no ethical dilemma when it comes to reporting on Cook’s sexuality: rather, the ethical dilemma comes in not reporting it, thereby perpetuating the idea that there’s some kind of stigma associated with being gay. Yes, the stigma does still exist in much of society. But it’s not the job of the press to perpetuate it. Quite the opposite.

    Update: For a better and more heartfelt version of this post, read Joe Clark from back in February: “When you tell us it’s wrong to report on gay public figures,” he writes, “you are telling gays not to come out of the closet and journalists not to report the truth.”
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    Aug 26, 2011 3:34 PM GMT
    This is proof of what I've said for a long time: The vast majority of straight people only "tolerate" gays...as long as they're not made public. Sure they'll pretend to be nice, but behind our backs they wish we were dead.
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    Aug 26, 2011 6:35 PM GMT
    Barney Frank... non-effeminate...?

    On Bizzaro-world perhaps.
  • kuroshiro

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    Aug 26, 2011 6:36 PM GMT
    While I agree that Tim Cook will be under the spotlight, I don't think he will ever fully eclipse Steve Jobs. He will forever be in the limelight.
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    Aug 26, 2011 6:38 PM GMT
    It's great that Tim Cook is gay (as long as he doesn't fuck up at Apple).
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    Aug 26, 2011 6:50 PM GMT
    kuroshiro saidWhile I agree that Tim Cook will be under the spotlight, I don't think he will ever fully eclipse Steve Jobs. He will forever be in the limelight.


    I presume you mean he will forever be in the shadow


    (pre-electricity spotlights were limelights that burned with a particularly brilliant white light, but was expensive. However, it shone in the green spectrum, so anyone in limelight would look grather reen skinned - hence the heavy greasepaint makeup and the rule never to dress the leading lady in green.


    Limelights were still used on early film sets and prolonged exposure often damaged film stars' retinas, so the dark glasses outside were more than mere affectation at first -- their eyes were badly damaged and daylight hurt.

    The "bigger" the star, the more time they weer under the lights, so they sustained the most damage and opted for the darkest of glasses and indoor lighting.


    Class dismissed.

    Next week - onstage beheadings. Read chapters 3 through 7 before class - or else.



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    Aug 26, 2011 7:21 PM GMT
    paulflexes saidThis is proof of what I've said for a long time: The vast majority of straight people only "tolerate" gays...as long as they're not made public. Sure they'll pretend to be nice, but behind our backs they wish we were dead.


    The amount of times one has seen you show such intolerance, and have wished another dead or hurt; where is your love?

    How are you any better?

    Were is the love?
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    Aug 26, 2011 7:32 PM GMT
    swimguychicago saidIt's great that Tim Cook is gay (as long as he doesn't fuck up at Apple).


    This reminds me of what Wanda Sykes said about Obama: “He's the first black President–unless you screw up. Then it’s ‘What’s up with the half-white guy?’"
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    Aug 28, 2011 10:54 PM GMT
    I firmly believe gays generally work hard to excel.

    For me, to overcome prejudice and earn respect.

    But, to follow in Steve Job's shoes? Yikes.

    It might change my view if I had more successful straight friends. icon_rolleyes.gif

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    Aug 28, 2011 11:12 PM GMT
    flwright64 saidI firmly believe gays generally work hard to excel. For me, to overcome prejudice and earn respect.
    I have to take issue with the above statement. When I first started working, a mentor schooled me that I did not need to over-compensate for being Black to prove myself. The goal was to please myself in the quality of work. I found that my personal expectations far exceeded any that others had for me. Skin color, like sexual orientation, is not a determining factor in producing superlative quality in one's work.
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    Aug 28, 2011 11:25 PM GMT
    Now the frivolous patent lawsuits will be filed with flair!

    (I say this as a big Apple junkie)
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    Aug 29, 2011 12:11 AM GMT
    lol, we're guessing the fundamentalists will be flocking to microsoft.

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    Aug 29, 2011 12:16 AM GMT


    Conversely from another article; "Of course, perhaps the strongest criticism of Salmon and other reporters who think it's legitimate to write about Cook's sexual habits is that as Cook himself has never spoken publicly about his preference, any such reporting is hearsay, unless Salmon has a source?
    "Do I have reliable sources?" Salmon asks himself. "No."


    Read more: http://www.thefirstpost.co.uk/83710,people,news,apple-slaps-golden-handcuffs-on-new-ceo-tim-cook-#ixzz1WN9EYlu0
  • XxXxXxAZNxXxX...

    Posts: 615

    Aug 29, 2011 12:24 AM GMT
    WHO RUN THE WORLD?!?!?!?!?!?!