Time for Gay CEOs to Take a Stand: Opinion
In "Don't Ignore Tim Cook's Sexuality," Salmon argues that the media subscribes to an unofficial "don't ask, don't tell" policy that only serves to further the stigma associated with homosexuality:
referring to Tim Cooksexuality a secret is no longer an option. And 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 ...
So incredibly well-stated.
I'll take Allison and Salmon's statements a step further. If Tim Cook, or somebody of the same or similar status, discloses their sexuality publicly, they save lives.
I'm convinced Brendan, Brian and Patrick Burke and the You Can Play project has done just that. They bring hope and support to young hockey players across Canada and the U.S. who struggle with playing the sport as gay men (and women) in small towns to large cities across North America.
The Moral Dilemma
That raises the question: Do gay CEOs have an obligation to come out?
In sports, Brendan Burke didn't ask for the responsibility. Neither did Brian or Patrick. They flat took it on. Imagine the global impact of a Tim Cook doing likewise.
As strongly as I feel about the subject, I'm just as uneasy.
I'm not gay. I don't know how it feels to be in a gay hockey player's or a gay CEO's shoes. All I can do is try to relate with the old standard (but true) lines, such as I have tons of gay friends. In fact, our very best friends are a lesbian couple raising three wonderful children in the Bay Area. That association, of course, does not give me the right to assign responsibility to another human being.
I do not know the circumstances of another person's decision to come out or not come out, to be an activist or to keep quiet.
That said, it's a worthy debate. And, with no fear whatsoever of melodrama, I submit that lives are on the line. That's not hyperbole; that's just the unfortunate reality of the world we live in.
Amazon.com(AMZN) CEO Jeff Bezos, who, as far as I know, is straight, recently upped the ante. He and his wife donated $2.5 million to a political campaign fighting for marriage equality in Washington State. He doesn't appear concerned that this will impact Amazon's business. Bezos wasn't available for comment, but, I presume he just thought it was the right thing to do.