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Apple CEO Tim Cook discusses decision to come out in new interview

Cook says he has no regrets, "not at all."

Apple CEO Tim Cook

Apple CEO Tim Cook says he's never regretted coming out as gay.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Apple CEO knew he was going to come out as gay -- even had the words ready to publish -- a year before he actually made his public announcement. He tells People magazine five years after the announcement that the delay wasn't due to second thoughts; he just wanted to pick the right time so it wasn't a distraction for Apple.

"I have not regretted it for one minute. Not at all," Cook said in a rare interview with PeopleEnEspanol that has been translated into English.

Five years ago this week, Cook publicly acknowledged his sexual orientation for the first time in an 800-word essay posted on Bloomberg Businessweek. He said at the time that he wanted to use his position as the leader of one of the world's most valuable companies to spotlight the discrimination minorities face.

Cook -- a famously private person -- told People that his decision to come out as gay was motivated by a desire to help younger people who sent him notes about their struggles with their own sexual orientation. Many were dealing with depression, suicidal thoughts and parental banishment, he said.

"Obviously I couldn't talk to each one individually that reached out, but you always know if you have people reaching out to you that there's many more that don't, that are just out there wondering whether they have a future or not, wondering whether life gets better … From there I really decided," he said.

"There's been a lot of people that came before me that made it possible for me to sit here today, and I needed to do something to help those people that were in a younger generation."

Cook says that kids who want to be out should know that life gets better and they can have a life filled with joy.

"Gay is not a limitation. It's a characteristic that I hope they view, like I do, that it's God's greatest gift," Cook said. "That's what I hope: to get that message out there to all the young kids struggling with their identity who aren't certain that they're resilient enough or good enough, or [they] are made to feel inferior in some way, or worse, are ostracized or whatever. Life doesn't need to be like this."

Cook also explained his decision to file a friend of the court brief with the Supreme Court in support of the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, which gives temporary protection from deportation to immigrants living illegally in the US who were brought to the states as children.

"These are people. These are people with real stories behind them. And they're every bit as American as I am," he said. "They're American in every respect except they don't have the paper. So let's give them the paper and do the right thing."

Since coming out, Cook has often spoken out against anti-LGBT legislation, and his name was featured on Alabama's anti-discrimination bill. In 2018, Cook was the recipient of the Anti-Defamation League's first Courage Against Hate award, which recognizes individuals who champion unity, diversity and social progress.