CNBC discussion on gay CEOs gets awkward when panelist says of Apple CEO Tim Cook, "he’s gay"




Well if Tim being gay is a secret, it’s a badly kept secret.


What I want to know is if a gay CEO can balance that with being a good mother.


I don’t know that it’s a “secret” but it’s something he’s never publicly confirmed nor denied, so it at least falls into “something Cook doesn’t feel like putting in public discussion” territory.


I had a ‘What about Tim Cook’ response to this review of The Glass Closet by John Browne. It asserted that there are no out CEOs. I guess Tim’s the exception that proves the rule. Everybody knows, but he’s not confirming, he’s not actually out, demonstrating that there are no out CEOs.


I always took this letter as a de facto coming out but I can see where it might still be considered a private matter.


I’m…not sure why this is awkward? I mean, he is gay, right? I can see there being some confusion between him simply being out (which he is) and being outspoken (which he’s not), but it’s not like it’s a gigantic faux pas.


exactly. it’s his personal choice not to be more out, but he’s definitely out in his own way. his twitter feed, while mostly silent, does occasionally applaud things based on equal rights for all regardless of sexuality. read it however you want, of course, but it seems like that’s the level of visibility he’s comfortable with. and that’s ok.


Does anyone have any insight on why it seems “ok” for entertainment figures to be out, but not business figures?


I think Tim Cook gets the tone about right (for someone who isn’t interested in talking about their home life). He doesn’t appear to be discouraging the discussion, and if people try to make it into a story for prurient reasons it makes them look bad all by themselves.

I’m possibly saying that because it’s my own approach to being out at work. Occasionally it leads to someone only realising I’m an invert after they’ve known me casually for years, which is awkward. But the alternative is to hang some kind of bell around my neck, which I don’t feel obliged to do.


This discussion should be focused on board of directors choices, not any particular CEO’s or CEOs in general. It is the boards’ decisions that have resulted in a lack of openly gay leadership.


It’s not the career-killer it used to be, but most industry insiders will tell you that there’s still no shortage of closeted actors in Hollywood. Take a sample set of how many people in your local college theater department are gay, extrapolate to the entertainment industry at large and do the math.

I think the entertainment industry might be slightly ahead of corporate America just because “Big Business” usually means “Old Rich White Guys in Suits,” i.e. the kind of guys who usually lean conservative.


I’m not sure which fields of entertainment you’re referring to-- the evidence (and rumors) suggest movie actors and sportspeople are far from comfortable about coming out.

People in business generally have much lower profiles than those in showbiz, so I have no idea how common it is for them to be closeted. I’d assume it depends on the industry and the type of role; if you were in a personality-based job like sales and/or a macho industry like construction, being gay might still affect how people deal with you and, in turn, your bottom line.


huh? If I didn’t know he was gay (and actually I didn’t before today) I wouldn’t read this and think he’s coming out. It’s a letter supporting equal rights for homosexuals - is everyone who agrees with these views gay?


Forgive my ignorance, but what’s an invert?


An outdated psychological term for someone “showing sexual inversion.” AKA a homosexual.


Yes, sorry, I meant gay. I just like using that Victorian word for my own amusement.

(In conversation, I’d pause and look around the room before stage-whispering it)


Count me, as well, among those who had no idea that Tim Cook was gay. Also, among the people who don’t think it matters one way or the other.


He could have saved it! All he had to do when he realised his faux-pas was say: “he’s gay…uh, excuse me, ‘he’s gay’?!?–he’s blindSee how it’s done (with apologies for video quality)


Steve Jobs didn’t like talking about his family/personal relationships either, did he?

At least Tim Cook presumably hasn’t disowned his own offspring…