Role models of greatness.

Here you will discover the back stories of kings, titans of industry, stellar athletes, giants of the entertainment field, scientists, politicians, artists and heroes – all of them gay or bisexual men. If their lives can serve as role models to young men who have been bullied or taught to think less of themselves for their sexual orientation, all the better. The sexual orientation of those featured here did not stand in the way of their achievements.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Tim Cook, New CEO of Gay-Friendly Apple

50-year-old Tim Cook, the head of the $355 billion Apple company, is a gay man, although he does not publicly acknowledge his sexual orientation. He is destined, however, to become an icon for gay advancement. Cook has gone from being the most powerful gay man in Silicon Valley to the most powerful gay man in the world, if not one of the richest. His compensation in 2010, before being named CEO, was $58 million (unless my math is wrong, that's over $1 million a week). If he stays with Apple another ten years, he will receive a $389 million bonus in the form of restricted stock (if he stays five, he gets only half that amount). Wow. Talk about incentive.

Cook joined Apple in 1998 overseeing computer manufacturing and was later promoted to chief of worldwide sales and head of the Macintosh division. Cook made his mark early on by fixing Apple's storied manufacturing inefficiencies. He also kept the company on track as Apple's interim leader during Steve Jobs' 2004 two-month medical leave and during his six-month leave in 2009. His steady hand kept iPhone 4 and iPad development on track, grew Macintosh sales and strongly rallied the stock value. As Apple’s CEO, Cook has been running day to day operations since Jobs's most recent medical leave began in January, deferring strategic decisions and other CEO prerogatives to Jobs. Apple's growth and stellar financial performance have continued unabated under his watch.

Cook is known to be a "fitness nut," in the gym by 5 am, often on the hiking trail and even more often on his bike. After Cook was profiled as a "lifelong bachelor" and "intensely private," many wondered if he might be gay. That is indeed the case, and Cook's sexual orientation has been the topic of at least some discussion within the company. One tech executive who has spoken to multiple Apple management veterans about Cook was told executives would support Cook if he publicly acknowledged his orientation, and even would encourage him to do so as he steps up his leadership role. If that happens, Cook would be by far the most powerful openly gay executive in the tech industry.

The media has danced around this subject. Felix Salmon wrote: "Keeping Cook’s sexual orientation a secret is no longer an option, so the press shouldn’t treat it as though it’s something to be avoided at all costs. There’s no ethical dilemma when it comes to reporting on Cook’s sexuality; rather, the ethical dilemma comes in not reporting it, thereby perpetuating the idea that there’s some kind of stigma associated with being gay. While stigma does still exist in much of society, it’s not the job of the press to perpetuate it. Quite the opposite."

Apple has been rated among the top gay-friendly tech companies among brands, and is widely considered to offer a workplace and culture that is open to people regardless of their background and preferences. Randy Ubillos, one of Apple's most well known engineers as the creator of Final Cut, the man who redesigned iMovie for Mac, and who was introduced last year by Jobs to demonstrate his new iMovie app for iPhone, is openly gay. Randy Ubillos (left, holding cup) is the life partner of Rick Fath, shown here on their honeymoon in the British Virgin Islands in 2000. Their commitment ceremony took place in San Francisco aboard a yacht. They were married in San Francisco’s City Hall on June 20, 2008.

In this video, Randy is introduced by Steve Jobs and goes on to introduce video editing using the new iMovie 11 software. He demonstrates step-by-step video editing to create a movie trailer.

Apple has also recognized the achievements of its third party developers who happened to be gay, including Steve Demeter, who left his job at Wells Fargo to work for himself, becoming independently wealthy after creating the early iPhone game Trism. “I’m totally out in my private life, but I’m not sure about wanting to be out professionally. I’m not worried about a backlash or anything like that, I’m just not sure that my being gay has anything to do with my business and the kinds of games we’re creating. It’s not like we’re making ‘gay’ games. I’m proud of the fact that I’m gay and that some of the guys who work with me are gay, but at the end of the day all that matters is that we put stuff out there that’s high-quality and that makes people happy.”

Here’s a video of Steve talking about his creation TRISM.

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