The Love Loud Fest descended with bravado on Salt Lake City in the final weekend of July. The festival boasted a big-name lineup, including Imagine Dragons and Zedd, with proceeds going to causes like The Trevor Project and The Tegan and Sara Foundation. But there was one impactful and unexpected moment that made perhaps the biggest ripple at the flashy event: a speech by Apple's CEO Tim Cook.
"I stand before you tonight as an uncle, a sports nut, a CEO, a lover of the beautiful Utah outdoors, and a proud gay American," Cook said as he stepped on stage to a roaring crowd, his powerful words echoing through the Rice-Eccles Stadium.
When it comes to his sexuality, Cook's public openness is relatively recent. He came out less than four years ago, via a 2014 essay for Bloomberg. In the time since, he's been relatively quiet about the topic. But at the Love Loud Fest, his message reached 30,000 individuals in the arena alone, and likely millions more across the world.
"I've come to deliver a simple message that I want every LGBTQ person to hear and believe. You are a gift to the world, a unique and special gift just the way you are," Cook said. "Your life matters. Today, I say find your truth, speak your truth, live your truth. My heart breaks when I see kids struggling to conform to a society or family that doesn't accept them, struggling to be what someone else thinks is normal. Let me tell you, 'Normal' just might be the worst word ever created . . . there is nothing wrong with you."
In the days after the event, Apple hit an incredible benchmark. As of Aug. 2, the company reached $1 trillion in market valuation. It's hard to understate the message that having an LGBTQ+ leader at one of the biggest companies in the world sends. With more than 1.3 billion customers globally, Tim Cook has the power to embolden a new generation of ambitious LGBTQ+ pioneers.