Yesterday, the internet exploded after a CNBC segment with New York Times columnist Simon Hobbs, who was on air to discuss BP CEO John Browne. Browne famously resigned his post after being outed in 2007. But it wasn't talk of Browne that got everyone going.
It was Hobbs' claim: "I think Tim Cook is open about the fact that he's gay at the head of Apple, isn't he?"
The problem is that Cook is not. All over the web people are weighing in that Cook's sexuality is the worst kept secret in business, and are speculating about vague comments the CEO has made in speeches.
But here are the facts:
- Tim Cook has never come out.
- Rampant suggestion that someone is gay is not equivalent to that person being out.
- It is a person's right to come out when and how he or she chooses.
As much as we might like for Cook to be gay, and to come out and be an icon, that is his own business.
Perhaps most troubling is speculation like that found in this Buzzfeed post:
Though Cook has yet to speak directly about his sexual orientation, he consistently speaks about LGBT rights as a human rights issue.
The gay rights movement depends heavily on the support of straight allies, and regardless of Cook's sexual orientation, the use of someone's support for gay rights as evidence of homosexual leanings can have a chilling effect on straight allies' willingness to speak out for our community.
So let's stop the speculation, and let people be who they wish to be. Lets just continue to do our own work in the hopes that we can make the world the kind of place that allows everyone who wishes to do so to come out safely.