Apple CEO Tim Cook has told LGBT people that they are “a gift to the world” during a speech in which he urged queer children not to give in to despair.
Cook, who became the first openly gay head of a Fortune 500 company when he came out in 2014, spoke emotionally to the 30,000 attendees at Utah’s LoveLoud Festival while introducing Imagine Dragons.
“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 told the cheering crowd at the Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City.
“I’ve come to deliver a simple message that I want every LGBT person to hear and to believe: You are a gift to the world, a unique and special gift, just the way you are. Your life matters.
“To you, I say: find your truth. Speak your truth. Live your truth,” added Cook.
“My heart breaks when I see kids struggling to conform to a society or a family that doesn’t accept them, struggling to be what someone else thinks is normal.
Thanks @LOVELOUDFest @ImagineDragons @DanReynolds for hosting such an uplifting event tonight, and for supporting LGBT youth and families. Young people, you are loved and you are powerful. #LoveLoud pic.twitter.com/qoHEE1pv5H
— Tim Cook (@tim_cook) July 29, 2018
“Let me tell you, normal might just be the worst word ever created,” Cook told the audience, to loud applause.
“We’re not all supposed to be the same, feel the same or think the same, and there is nothing wrong with you.
“Now, I know that life can be dark and heavy, and sometimes it might seem unreasonable and unbearable. But just as night turns to day, know that darkness is always followed by light,” he continued.
“You will feel more comfortable in your own skin, attitudes will change, life will get better, and you?
“You will thrive.”
The Apple boss has used his platform to speak out over the past year in favour of same-sex marriage in Australia and against fascism and President Donald Trump following the white supremacist Charlottesville rally which claimed the life of protester Heather Heyer.
More from PinkNews
|Stars You Didn't Know Were Gay Or Bisexual||The Stars You Didn’t Know Have An LGBT Sibling||The Straight Stars Who Went Gay For Pay|
Proceeds from LoveLoud, which raised more than $1 million and also featured pop stars Mary Lambert and Zedd, will go to support LGBT youth charities, including The Trevor Project, the Tegan and Sara Foundation and Encircle.
The festival was created by Imagine Dragons’ lead singer, Dan Reynolds, an LGBT ally who was raised Mormon and wanted to hold the event to combat the anti-LGBT stances taken by the Church, as well as the horrifying rise in youth suicides in Utah.
Between 2007 and 2015, the youth suicide rate has nearly quadrupled in the state.
Reynolds made his own impassioned speech to LGBT youth during the band’s set, saying: “I hope that tonight and today, you know, you know, that your sexuality is pure.
“And it’s true. And it’s clean. I hope that you know, you are needed. We need you.
“I don’t want to hear any more stories of youth taking their lives in Utah. We must change our culture. We must change the way we see each other.”
Later on, he added: “To our LGBTQ youth, stay with us every day. We need you, we love you [and] we accept you. Your love is valid, it’s pure, it’s true [and] it’s beautiful.
“We stand with you – Love Loud will be here. Peace, love, equality. We’ll see you again soon.”
Watch Cook’s inspiring speech here: