It is okay that I call you Tim, isn’t it? I mean, you felt like you knew me well enough that you revealed your sexual proclivities to me, and since I haven’t the same capacity to convey mine to you in such an attention-grabbing manner [ravenously heterosexual, if you must know] I felt I should at least be allowed to address you informally.
I appreciate that you felt so comfortable in your own skin that you could let us all in on your little ‘secret’, though I’m sure it wasn’t much of a secret among the people who actually knew you. And isn’t that the way things should be? And I bet you never got any grief from any of them about your homosexuality. Steve Jobs certainly didn’t hold it against you when he named you as his successor.
You claimed that your homosexuality was the greatest gift God has bestowed upon you. Were you serious? Where, then, does the Apple Computer gig fit in? I mean, I doubt your predecessor thought his sexuality was the greatest gift bestowed upon him. I’m not the CEO of Apple Computer, and while I’ve had plenty of sex over the course of my half century or so on the planet, I don’t consider my ravenous heterosexuality (does it make you uncomfortable to hear me discuss things that way? Imagine how heterosexuals feel about homosexuals ceaselessly revealing their sexual proclivities to the public) to be the greatest gift God has bestowed upon me. Or, even one of the top ten gifts.
It might even be the greatest curse. Have you been around American women lately? Oh, yeah, but not in that way. Well let me tell you, they can be batshit crazy and controlling and diabolically evil, and that’s just the ones who can otherwise function in society well enough that they not be institutionalized. If you want to know a bit of what American men face when confronting the problem of their heterosexuality, go to see the movie, Gone Girl. You ought to be able to view the movie a bit more objectively than I did. I was shaking with terror by the end, and will probably never look at my wife in the same way again. I can see why so many men who are on the sexual preference fence are climbing down into your side of the pasture. Heterosexuality doesn’t seem much of a gift, but a burden. But maybe that’s just been my experience with it.
As I recall, your predecessor at Apple wasn’t married (not that heterosexual or homosexual marriage is required for expressing one’s sexuality), but certainly behaved as if he were heterosexual. But I bet Steve Jobs thought the iPod, not his sexual orientation, was the greatest gift God bestowed upon him and upon Apple Computer. (Given Jobs cultish appeal, God undoubtedly achieved near perfect expression through Jobs, or at least that’s what Jobs seemed to think). I mean, before the iPod, Apple Computer had about been forgotten in the great consumer technology game. The iPod was like Sony’s Walkman. Literally, accounting for the differences in technology of the times, the iPod and the Walkman were identical. They were faddish but individualized means of listening to music. God, through his medium, Jobs, and Jobs, through his medium, Apple, made it cool to walk around with earbuds in one’s ears, just like Sony had once made it cool to walk around with a CD player strapped to the hip and headphones wrapped from ear to ear. But with iPods, a library of music that would have taken a fair-sized closet to store now could be accessed and downloaded digitally and carried everywhere. The world was so much better for it. Well, except for recording artists and record companies who found it harder and harder to get paid as it became easier and easier to share music. But certainly, the iPod made Apple Computer matter again, and turned the mock-T wearing Jobs into a guru of techno fashion. With the iPod becoming the next big, cool technology thing, which Jobs wisely followed with the iPhone and then the iPad, each with relentlessly innovating updates, Jobs and Apple Computer eventually became to consumer technology what Ralph Lauren was/is to Western sartorial tastes—the place the masses of middle to upper middle class bourgeoisie turned to in deciding upon what they should be wearing or carrying next. That little bitten apple logo (and what a sardonic little slap in God’s face the logo represented) became as chic for consumer electronics as that little polo pony and rider logo was for clothes.
None of any of this had really anything to do with anybody’s sexuality, except that the striving for status that wearing a Polo or carrying an iPhone represented was innately tied to sexuality and has been cynically exploited by both Jobs and Lauren. Higher status humans, like higher status wolves in a pack, get to have more sex. Or, at least, that’s the case in the heterosexual world. I’m not really sure how things work in the homosexual world, since I don’t live there. It would seem ambiguous, as there is no reproductive point to the sexuality of a homosexual.
But the truly remarkable societal change the iPod and iPhone fads represented was that information technology was no longer valuable simply for its usefulness. It became as much or more valuable for its stylishness. Where Microsoft’s operating platforms were only as beautiful as they were efficient enablers of productivity enhancements, Apple’s phones and computers were considered stylish and beautiful in their own right. The culture spent the nineties getting more efficient and thereby richer on Microsoft technology so that it could squander its fortune on iPods, iPhones and iPads. Information technology jumped the shark and become a luxury, instead of utilitarian, good. The coolness of the iPhone bled over into even the personal computer game. No hipster would be seen dead with a Dell or HP PC by the mid to late aught’s. Whereas an IBM PC was de rigueur in the eighties, it had to have a point and click Windows operating system interface by the mid-nineties (no more DOS), and then it was replaced altogether by Compaq, Gateway, Dell and eventually Hewlett Packard by the end of the decade. Apple obliterated all that. It became the “It“ IT company apparently unto infinity (if the stock price is any indication) for consumer technology devices.
The point here is that Apple got to be cool when the slow accretion of wealth across the society during the nineties yielded enough people who could afford to indulge personal technology as something more than just an efficiency enhancement tool. And here’s the deal—the same could be said of the present cultural movement to liberalize laws and attitudes towards homosexuality. It is a function of wealth that homosexuality is celebrated and accepted. The West, without any real existential challenges, has become unimaginably wealthy (even if it doesn’t feel that way sometimes) and with unimaginable wealth comes luxuriant decadence. It’s sort of perfect in a way that you, the CEO of Apple Computer, are the first to come out among the Fortune 500. Apple sells luxury (if mass marketed) technologies. There is nothing anyone needs with an iPhone that they couldn’t get with someone else’s phone for cheaper. The iPhone can charge more because it is chic. And a society that can afford iPhones can afford to provide the equal protection of its laws to people who have more or less foresworn their reproductive imperatives (notwithstanding some few homosexuals do have children). It is not often discussed in this world of seven billion and rising people, but it matters quite a bit to a society whether or not its citizens have children. Ask Japan, and Russia. Both countries have total fertility rates well below replacement. One openly persecutes homosexuality (Russia). The other (Japan) does not, but neither does it provide any special protection for the condition, or allow homosexuals the benefits (?) of marriage. But it can’t be imagined that the leaders of both countries aren’t very concerned, if not always openly, that their populations are in actual decline. What leader seeks for his organization to shrink?
The problem with homosexuality, so far as society is concerned, is its violation of Kant’s categorical imperative. If everyone were homosexual, unless there arose a different means of human reproduction (which is not entirely implausible), the society would not long exist. For Kant, the answer to a question of whether something is moral is to ask what would happen if everyone did the something in question. If the answer comes back clearly negative, then it should not be done by the individual.
So there is the Kantian moral problem of societal survivability, but all moral problems are about survivability of either the individual or society, so calling it a moral problem is really just another way of saying that at some percentage of the population, homosexuality could be expected to impair the long-term prospects for the survival of the species. Yet another way to put it is that there is no way that a strictly homosexual genome could be naturally selected for propagation in a sexually reproducing species. Homosexuality, especially of the exclusive variety, is a genetic aberration, but one of many that is possible within the expansive human genome. The anomaly afflicts, according to a study by the Williams Institute, about 3.5% of the adult population in the US. And yes, there are varying degrees of innateness. The homosexual inclination lies upon a gradient, a continuum, where there are the perfectly straight people on the one end, who are disgusted at the very thought of homosexuality and who have never had a homosexual encounter, and perfectly homosexual people on the other end, who are similarly disgusted at the idea of physical contact with the opposite sex. Most people, as I suspect is the case with you, Tim, lie somewhere in between.
But it can’t be imagined that widespread acceptance of openly homosexual lifestyles won’t encourage the fence sitters to jump off the fence and into the homosexual camp. I don’t know for sure, as I’ve never had a homosexual relationship, but it would seem to me that homosexual relationships would be less difficult and fraught than straight relationships. With homosexual relationships, there is already a commonality that is not present in heterosexual relationships—the homosexual couples have in common the physical plumbing and experiences of being male or female in society; they view things from the same, or very similar perspectives, gender-wise. Straight couples don’t have that luxury. Men and women really are different, and not just because of social conditioning. It takes a powerful urge (i.e., lust) to bring them together, and for those in the middle of the heterosexual/ homosexual gradient, that urge might not be strong enough to overcome the volatile differences.
Western society is rich enough and populous enough that it can afford to extend protections and benefits to homosexuals, and doing so helps it believe that its mythical purpose of promoting equality and individual liberty remains its animating virtue. Promoting the acceptance of homosexuality, as you did in coming out, is seen as, in your words “…paving the sunlit path towards justice, one brick at a time… “. It is viewed as the highest expression of human progress, even more so than the progress represented today by everyone spending their days hyperactively socialized on their iPhones. But in changing the conversation from your company to you and your sexual proclivities, it could be argued that you did a disservice to the shareholders of the company who you purport to represent. Of course, it might be a public relations gambit worth taking, if Apple’s technology products become more closely identified with the social movement de jour of this bored society. And it would be an appropriate identification (Apple with the Gay Movement), because in large measure, boredom is the real driver of both. Apple figured out how to make endless hours of wasted time looking at internet drivel appear to be purposeful and cool, while also making it moderately enjoyable. And the homosexual acceptance movement is something that relieves the domestic ennui, particularly of the federal government and court system and a whole host of do-gooder organizations that need but can’t often find a purpose for being and who thrash aimlessly about when they don’t have some perceived injustices to correct. And it gives society at large something besides another military campaign abroad to rally around.
But the reality is that people have always known there were homosexuals in their midst. Homosexuals often were ignored or marginalized or even ostracized and persecuted, because the majority of people thought, then and now, that homosexuality is, of whatever source, an aberration. And it is an aberration, of the genetic variety. But there are other such genetic aberrations that aren’t met with similar disdain, and it is not right and never was to treat homosexuals poorly. People always sort of knew that homosexuals were born that way, but still persecuted them for something they had no control over. Being homosexual, at times in the past, must have seemed not much different than being Jewish (for the most part, Jews, also, are born that way), except that the Jews had a more robust social support system than did homosexuals, at least until recently.
Tim, I hate that there needs to be a gay acceptance movement and that you felt compelled to support it with your coming out. But I relish the reality that society has grown so rich and has so conclusively conquered so many other injustices and threats that it can now turn its attention to gay acceptance. But I caution that wealth and luxury yields inevitably to decadent excess, and that we are pretty much already there, which endangers us in a progressively-accumulating manner internationally. ISIS makes easy hay with the bored young men it needs as fighters because it is easy to point to the decadence (particularly sexually, particularly among heterosexuals, particularly among women—Western women seem hell bent to outslut each other in behavior and attire, getting a bit more vulgar with every passing year—a matter for a different letter) that seems to have been the point of all that vaunted Western progress. While the West extends the marriage franchise to homosexuals, ISIS establishes an Islamic caliphate in the Levant where homosexuality is punishable (like all else) by death. The two extremes are more closely related than anyone cares to admit.
As a parting observation—you came from Alabama, growing up in Robertsdale, down around Mobile, and attended Auburn University. It would have been nice if you hadn’t felt it necessary to get in a dig in your coming out at how poorly homosexuals were treated in Alabama when you were growing up. It would be hard to imagine that they were treated much differently in Alabama than they were anywhere else back then. I am about your age and found very little open persecution of homosexuals when I was growing up, but also was aware of very few openly homosexual people. Where I live now (Birmingham), there are openly homosexual people everywhere, and pretty much nobody notices, so far as I can tell. Whole neighborhoods (Crestwood) have reputations for having a large percentage of homosexuals (in Crestwood’s case, as urban rejuvenators). Things really aren’t that bad down here. There are no laws specifically protecting homosexuals, but there are also none specifically deleterious to the homosexual condition and lifestyle. I think the principle of live and let live, which Alabamians like to assert against the Federal government, has been sort of intuitively applied to homosexuals by the vast majority of the population.
In the meantime, I’ve enjoyed our little chat. Best wishes for whatever new, must-have thing Apple comes up with next. Who knows, I might even, for the first time, buy one. But probably not. Don’t despair. I don’t wear clothes with little polo players embroidered on them either.