Dear Tim Cook,
I recently wrote an article urging gay boys to read “Lean In,” Sheryl Sandberg’s advice book/feminist manifesto/memoir that encourages women to act like straight dudes in the office. Why? Because I know gay boys cut themselves short at work. At a previous internship, I sat at my desk, frightened to ask my boss for harder assignments, worried she might fire me for wanting to work harder.
It’s stupid, I know, but I was taught that society likes gay boys who keep their mouths shut.
I found “Lean In” helpful, so I recommended it to my fellow gays. After all, since there are no gay CEOs, I wrote in my first draft, Sandberg’s book was the best advice gay boys could get. But I was wrong, Tim. There is a gay CEO. In fact, he’s the CEO of the largest tech company on earth, Apple. But, of course, you already know this, Tim. You are (reportedly) the gay CEO.
I should have known you were gay; for the past three years, you have topped Out Magazine’s Power List. But it makes since few gays know about you: You haven’t used your power to discuss gay rights or help gays in the work force.
Whereas Honey Boo Boo tells cameras that “Everybody is a little gay” and she loves her H.I.V.-positive gay uncle, Uncle Poodle, you have remained silent. You’re an openly gay man, yet a six-year-old reality television starlet has literally done more for gay rights than you have. That’s sad.
Of course, you could point to other gay CEOs, and say, “Why aren’t you writing a letter to them?” But they run fashion companies and PR firms and vacation companies—gay male dominated fields society expects gay males and females to work in. You work at Apple, the richest corporation on earth, a gold mine in Silicon Valley: the notoriously masculine capitol of the notoriously masculine tech world. I don’t mean to undermine the accomplishments of other gay CEOs—they faced challenges too. Your platform is just bigger than any other gay CEO’s profile, and you have probably faced more challenges to rise to the top of your field.
Tim Cook, you probably don’t need me to tell you this, but you’re a winner. You’re the man. When you started your career, homosexuality was leprosy—it was years before gay marriage and Jason Collins. Yet you managed to climb to the top of the career ladder at the top company on earth in one of the most heteronormative industries on earth. You know the challenges gays face at work, and you know how to win those battles.
Today’s gays have more role models than you did. We have Glee and Neil Patrick Harris. But we still grew up gay—we still deal with the insecurities that have plagued gay men for generations. We still struggle to lean in. We still feel weak when acting assertive. We still don’t know how to handle when someone says something homophobic at the work place.
I know we can follow Sheryl Sandberg’s advice, but there are certain battles gay males face that women don’t. You’re the best person to teach young gays how to face these dilemmas.
You have more power than any other gay man, Tim. Please use it.
The Homo Life
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