Why is it important to come out? Why did Tim Cook come out now?

Today I did what I rarely do: I read comments on news stories. Specifically the stories about Apple CEO Tim Cook coming out as gay. The comments generally filter into one of a few categories:

  1. That’s great.
  2. That’s awful.
  3. That’s not news, who cares.

People who think it’s awful are themselves awful people.

People who think it’s not news may be right — in another generation or two.

I can tell you why this is news, and I think Tim Cook knows it all too well: there are still a terrifying number of people who can’t wrap their brain around homosexuality.

These people are mostly in the south and midwest, and Tim Cook knows that given his remarks in his home state of Alabama the other day. And there are entire countries, like China, where he just returned from, that don’t tolerate homosexuality.

Despite the fact there’s nothing he or anyone else can do to change that. The old chestnut, “If I chose to be gay, when did you choose to be straight?” holds weight.

And for every person who called me queer, a faggot, or any other number of gay slurs, it helps knowing you’re not the only person out there. Because I assure you that in a lot of small towns across the world, there is literally just one or two openly gay people, and they’re often young people who don’t have the ability to just get up and leave.

People soften and develop better, more humane, views of the world when they know people they care about and respect are themselves “different”. And for all intents and purposes, gay people are “different”, just like blind people are “different”. “Different” meaning they’re not the majority. They’re not like absolutely everyone else or how social norms supposedly dictate.

So it’s not earth-shattering news, but it is newsworthy. While it may not be important to you, it probably is for millions of others, and if it makes one less person think less of gay people, then Tim’s done some good work.

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