It's So Hard Not to Care About Tim Cook's Sexual Orientation

The media can't decide if the CEO's sexual orientation is worth mentioning

This article is from the archive of our partner .

No, Apple's new CEO Tim Cook is not officially out of the closet, but he's in the "glass closet," apparently: people know he's gay without him having to come out and say it. This isn't news. But in light of his big promotion, does his sexuality matter? The media isn't quite sure: Do we or don't we mention his queer orientation? Let's debate!

Cook is one of the most powerful gay figures in the world, that deserves coverage argues Reuters's Felix Salmon. "But surely this is something we can and should be celebrating, if only in the name of diversity--that a company which by some measures the largest and most important in the world is now being run by a gay man."

And it's not just that he is gay and runs a big company, but he presents a particularly good role model. He isn't by any means a stereotype, reminds Salmon. "He’s like Barney Frank in that sense: a super-smart, powerful and non-effeminate man who shows that being gay is no obstacle to any career you might want."

Yet one's sexual orientation has nothing to do with running a company, so many media outlets have opted out of mentioning Cook's male persuasion continues Salmon. "This is newsworthy, no? But you won’t find it reported in any legacy/mainstream outlet." Others aren't as sure as Salmon that Cook's sexuality matters at all, especially if Cook himself doesn't proclaim his orientation loud and proud, counters GigaOm's Mathew Ingram in a tweet. "I can see what @felixsalmon is driving at here, but not sure Tim Cook's sexuality is an issue until he makes it one." Can he really be considered a gay role model if he can't come out and say it? "Cook," argues The Atlantic's Nick Jackson, "is one of those at the high levels who is afraid to publicly confirm his homosexuality. And he won't be a role model for the LGBT community until he confirms the rumors and comes out of the glass closet he is assumed to be living in."

But some think because Cook hasn't acknowledged it, the media should do the same: It's a non-sequitur--or at least it should be, explains Mogulite's Hillary Reinsberg.  "Essentially, it's not a big deal, that everyone at Apple thinks it's not a big deal, and that it won't affect the company at all. The guy has done a good job as a leader while keeping his private life private, and can continue to do so."

But of course, therein lies the paradox, as Dow Jones' Julie Steinberg points out in a Tweet. "But how to escape the paradox? as long as we keep writing a woman/gay person ascended, how will it ever stop being newsworthy?"

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.