Thank you Tim Cook!

tim cookBy Kirsten Bokenkamp When Apple’s CEO Tim Cook publically came out as gay this morning through a column in Bloomberg Businessweek, all the leading business newspapers and journals, including CNN, Business Insider, and  Forbes, picked up the headline Apple CEO Time Cook: “I’m proud to be gay”.  When a business or political leader comes out as LGBT, we believe it’s a critical component toward full and lasting equality.  Living OUT and proud makes a difference. Cook has never denied being gay, but one of the major reasons why he decided to make this announcement so public is that  - in his words – “if hearing that the CEO of Apple is gay can help somebody 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.” At Equality Virginia we agree one hundred percent.   It all goes back to changing hearts and minds.  When such a high profile CEO comes out and takes a stand for LGBT equality, all of a sudden leading papers take notice, other business leaders think about what policies they have in place to protect their LGBT employees, and some legislators may even come to their senses and realize that we must have laws to protect people from workplace discrimination.  Minds start to change. In his column, Cook went beyond making a simple announcement that he is gay.  He took this opportunity to raise awareness about the discrimination so many LGBT people face, and advocated for fairness.  He acknowledged that while he has had the good fortune to work at a company that knows it can only flourish when it embraces people’s differences, “not everyone is so lucky,” and highlighted the fact that in a number of states (including Virginia), you can be fired based on your sexual orientation or gender identity. As Equality Virginia fights for workplace fairness and more in the Commonwealth, we are grateful for leaders like Tim Cook who took a stand for what he knows to be right. In our book, Tim Cook is truly OUTstanding! Do you know anybody in Virginia who has inspired others or helped move the commonwealth toward equality?  Every year, at its Commonwealth Dinner, Equality Virginia recognizes OUTstanding Virginians who have represented the community with distinction. Click here to nominate somebody who you think is deserving of this award.