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Apple CEO Tim Cook Discussed His Decision to Come Out Publicly

Apple CEO Tim Cook Discussed His Decision to Come Out Publicly

Tim Cook on Late Show with Stephen Colbert
Photo: Jeffrey R. Staab/CBS (c)2015

'I wanted to tell everyone my truth,' Cook told Stephen Colbert.

Since coming out publicly last October, Apple CEO Tim Cook, Out's No. 1 Most Powerful LGBT person in America, has not given any interviews that discussed his decision and what it's like being the only openly gay CEO in the Fortune 500. Until last night on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. In fact, it was Cook's first appearance on a late-night talk show, and he seemed awed to be onstage at the Ed Sullivan Theater (although he's grown accustomed to presenting Apple's new product lines in front of thousands). "I have to admit, I feel little naked," Cook told Colbert, with his familiar Southern accent.

"You're supposed to think of the audience as naked," Colbert responded. "Check your settings."

After talking about Apple products -- and Colbert trying to get Cook to give him secrets about Apple's rumored research on driverless cars -- the host asked about his thoughts on the upcoming movie about Steve Jobs, his work on human rights issues, and his decision to come out. Cook began by recounting how he was inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King's challenge: "Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?' " and he continued by explaining:

"It became so clear to me. Kids were getting bullied in schools. Kids were basically getting discriminated against. Kids were even being disclaimed by their own parents. And that I needed to do something. Where I valued my privacy significantly, I felt that I was valuing it too far above what I could do with other people, and so I wanted to tell everyone my truth. Many people already knew. For many people it was no revelation. It's like discovering something on your iPhone that it's always done, but you didn't quite know it. It wasn't a revelation to a lot of people I worked with, but it was maybe to the broader world. I felt a tremendous responsibility to do it."

Colbert then followed that up by asking Cook if his commitment to social responsibility extended to conditions at Apple's suppliers around world, which have been the focus of criticism.

"Absolutely. In our supply chain, we train everybody on... their rights as we see them," Cook said. "We have a really high bar. We bring college classes to our manufacturing plants because we want people to grow and move up their own career ladder."

Watch the clip of the Late Show segment below:

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