Tim Cook on the work still needed for LGBTQ equality

Author: CBS Sunday Morning
Published: Updated:
Tim Cook. (Credit: CBS News)
Tim Cook. (Credit: CBS News)

Pride parades across the country Sunday will celebrate the advances made in LGBTQ rights in the half century since gay patrons of the Stonewall Inn in New York’s Greenwich village resisted a raid by police.

Still, there’s work to be done, according to our CBS Sunday Morning guest commentator, Tim Cook, the Chief Executive Officer of Apple.

This weekend we mark the 50th anniversary of the riots at Stonewall.

It’s an important reminder that only dedicated people, standing up when it is difficult, can carry us forward. And that without courage, it is chillingly easy to fall back into the shadows.

When the patrons of the Stonewall Inn showed up that June night-people of all races, gay and transgender, young and old-they had no idea what history had in store for them. It would have seemed foolish to dream it.

When the police raid began, it was not the knock of opportunity or the call of destiny. It was just another instance of the world telling them that they ought to feel worthless for being different.

But the group gathered there felt something strengthen in them. A conviction that they deserved something better than oblivion.

And if it wasn’t going to be given, then they were going to have to build it themselves.

I was eight years old and a thousand miles away when Stonewall happened. There were no news alerts, no way for photos to go viral, no mechanism for a kid on the Gulf Coast to hear these unlikely heroes tell their stories.

What I would not know, for a long time, was what I owed to a group of people I never knew in a place I’d never been.

Yet I will never stop being grateful for what they had the courage to build.

Today, it’s on all of us to carry their work forward.

In 2019, discrimination still looms in employment, in housing, and in public places like restaurants and stores.

The transgender community, in particular, is singled out for discrimination and acts of violence.

And LGBTQ young people still face an epidemic of harassment in bullying that isn’t merely cruel, it robs them of life’s opportunities. Often this comes at the hands of the people they should be able to trust – their teachers, their faith leaders, even their parents. Seeking only love and acceptance these young people are kicked out of their homes and houses of worship. That’s no small reason why roughly 40% of homeless youth are LGBTQ.

We all have a responsibility to set a positive example and that includes companies like ours. We make sure our employees enjoy equal benefits and healthcare protections, and that we create an inclusive environment where everyone can bring their unique experiences to work.

With the spread of marriage equality to all 50 states, and a seismic shift in public opinion in favor of equality for all, the march that began at Stonewall continues with the wind at our back.

This Anniversary, and Pride Month in general, are a time for celebration and community. But we miss an important opportunity if we don’t dedicate this moment to the progress yet to be made.

I am so proud to be a part of this courageous community, and, 50 years after that historic night, it’s the privilege of a lifetime to help carry on its unfinished work.

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