Tim Cook, the openly gay head of the globe’s largest corporation, has offered an empowering message to LGBTQ youth.
Cook, the CEO of Apple, appeared on stage at the LoveLoud Festival in Salt Lake City, Utah on Saturday. The event supports and raises money for LGBTQ causes.
He described himself to the crowd as an “uncle, a sports nut, a CEO, a lover of the beautiful Utah outdoors… and a proud gay American!”
He continued: “I’ve come to deliver a simple message, that I want every LGBTQ person to hear and to believe. You are a gift to the world; a unique and special gift, just the way you are. Your life matters. To you I say: Find your truth, speak your truth, live your truth.
“My heart breaks when I see kids struggling to conform to a society or family that doesn’t accept them, struggling to be what someone else thinks is normal. Let me tell you, ‘normal’ just might be the worst word ever created,” said Cook, arguably the world’s most powerful businessman.
“We’re not all supposed to be the same, feel the same or think the same, and there is nothing wrong with you.
“I know that life can be dark and heavy and sometimes seems unreasonable and unbearable but just as night turns to day, know that darkness is always followed by light. You will be comfortable in your own skin. Attitudes will change. Life will get better, and you… you will thrive,” affirmed Cook.
Cook, 57, took over as CEO of Apple in August 2011, following the death of the company’s co-founder, Steve Jobs. He came out as gay in 2014, stating that, “I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me.” He has become a vocal advocate for the LGBTQ community and a role model as a gay achiever in business.
Founded by Dan Reynolds of pop rock band Imagine Dragons, Saturday’s LoveLoud Festival raised $1 million from ticket sales and donations for organisations such as LGBTQ teen suicide support group, The Trevor Project.
The event was, however, marred by incidents in which transgender attendees claimed they were harassed because of the bathrooms they chose to use. In a statement, the festival said it was “saddened to hear that a few of our LGBTQ+ community members faced discrimination at last night’s festival” and asserted that it has “a zero-tolerance policy toward any behavior that makes anyone feel unsafe or unwelcome.”
LoveLoud added: “We are committed to learning from our mistakes and will continuously work to improve the lives of LGBTQ+ people in our community and beyond.”