Halloween is the gay man’s Christmas. When you are left of straight, you spend a lot of time wearing masks around family, friends, co-workers, and school. Usually those masks hide our fears and insecurities of being found out to be “different.” But Halloween, that’s actually when our masks come off and we get to show a glimpse of our true selves. You may not recognize the deeper hidden meaning behind our costumes, and yes, sometimes a costume IS just a costume, but to our queer community, those masks and costumes can free our inner thoughts, selves. and inspirations.
As our friends and family crack up when we “dare” to wear something outrageous, we are secretly releasing our inner Wonder Woman’s, Dorothy’s, He-Man’s, and Leather Boy’s. Growing up in Southern California, I have bared witness to the holiday that is Halloween, on the streets of West Hollywood, and at some of the most fantastic themed parties in the U.S.. Even the most shy and introverted become outgoing and gregarious as we shed our masks of deception and let our rainbow flag fly.
For a lot of us, we wear our masks far into adulthood. I was one of those. I’ve known I was gay since I was about 14, and secretly acted on being gay since I was 18, and professionally hid being gay until I was 34. I always openly supported the LGBT cause, and had many gay friends to show how progressive I was, but I was really only lying to myself and hiding in the closet to my so-called friends, without creating the true friendships I could have had if I was willing to take off my mask.
The biggest “Treat” this Halloween is Apple CEO, Tim Cook, coming out as gay in an op-ed piece he wrote for Bloomberg Business Week. Although this big revelation has been whispered about quite openly for a while now, it still took courage to come out and emphatically own it for himself. The venue was almost as important as the announcement. We have seen celebrities come out in People magazine, we have seen young up and comers like olympic diver, Tom Daley, come out on YouTube, so it seemed appropriate that as a global business personality and leader, he chose a well respected business magazine to tell his own story.
Apple is quite arguably, one of the biggest companies on the planet. As far as brand recognition and consumer awareness, it is one of the undisputed champs. Does this announcement from the CEO mean that every Iphone, Ipad, Ipod, and Mac user will immediately push their homophobic thoughts to the side when they look at that familiar apple logo? No. But will it hurt the Apple brand with these consumers? Probably not. The company itself is already known for ranking among the best places for LGBT employment in regards to hiring, benefits, and protections.
What it could mean however, is that other LGBT executives at major corporations, may find it a little easier to come out as well. Policies and tolerance usually come from the top down in business, and with more openly out leaders in business and industry, it can create a safer and more hospitable working environment all the way around. As it is now, employers in my state, Ohio, and 28 other states in our country can simply fire you for being gay. The tech industry is one where innovation comes fast and furious, and most start-ups are headed by younger men and women who may be building their business today from their garage, and turning it tomorrow into the next anchor of a new Silicon Valley. Imagine if these future tech moguls, now take their cue from Tim Cook, and are able to take their masks off from the start. To live their personal lives as free and innovative as they begin their companies, and hopefully make that the cornerstone of their work environment, for all their employees that come work for them.
We may not see any Tim Cook masks come October 2015, but rest assured that many more in the LGBT Community will not be needing to change one mask for another, as this coming out statement will hopefully embolden more of us to take off our masks we wear the other 364 days of the year.
Enjoy the day Stranger Friends, let your true mask be your compass after you take off the glitter, the wigs, the make-up, and the go-go boots this Halloween. I’ll be the guy in the Cowboy Outfit!…………S