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A recent public revelation by Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, regarding his homosexuality has become an astonishing event of dubious nature for the global community at large. On the one hand, this announcement can be perceived as a brave example for other representatives of sexual minorities to reveal themselves to the world and hope to be accepted the way they are. On the other hand, a sufficient part of society still perceives the issue from an overwhelmingly heterosexual standpoint, thus it may further stigmatize such individuals. Hence, the essay considers the issue from the perspectives introduced by Nader, Kibbe, Reich, and the functionalist school of philosophy.
The Issue in Question from Nader’s Perspective
The highly stereotyped government and the greater part of its legislators “nurture a sense of powerlessness from young age” (p. xii) to the US residents, the establishment of equality between heterosexuals and homosexuals is unambiguous. This different-level resilience between the two opposing positions with respect to sexual orientation should be legally guaranteed and practiced within all life paradigms. These domains include accessibility to housing and its affordability, job availability, marriage and family issues, social benefits and responsibilities, to list a few. The most important is that Nader’s standpoint in this respect reveals that sexuality, whether traditional or not, is to be considered as an intimate decision of each human, but not traded for or hidden from the public. Cook’s situation suits perfectly into this person-centered reasoning. His sincere “I am proud to be gay” is a specific individual position and a way to be honest with himself, though it is controversial to community-based beliefs that derive from the veiled and blurred legislation.
Indeed, the problem is covered by the US law just for visibility of acting in addressing the issue, as opposed to a recently adopted Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Act in Nigeria. While the latter openly eliminates homosexuality as such, the former does not guarantee complete freedom for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals. This issue is relevant even in terms of the updated form of the State Marriage Defense Act (2014) and President Obama announcing the same-sex union as valid nationwide. If the US laws and regulations were precisely argued and practiced, Cook’s story would not have become a sensational event at all. Conversely, it would have been perceived as a daily one. Thus, it is clear that society has to “get rid of gay discrimination fully, not halfway”.
Indeed, revolutionary changes start top-down. The situation of Apple’s CEO can be regarded under this angle as well whereas his declaration is predicted to be a powerful enticing force for other secret homosexuals to follow. This great transition can become a way to melt the iceberg of prejudices that freeze inter-community relations with respect to the issue. Similarly, “corporate statesmanship” and “corporate patriotism” of politicians representing different ideologies have to be a uniting source for reconsidering and getting rid of discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation. In this way, a conscious transformation on the legal level will eventually result in reviewing of law-abiding social norms and culture as a whole.
Kibbe’s Opinion on Homosexuality
The essence of philosophical worldview promoted by Kibbe (2014) is succinctly embedded in the following phrase: “Everyone should be free to live their lives as they think best, free from meddling by politicians and government bureaucrats, as long as they do not hurt other people, or take other people’s stuff.” It sounds logical and should be free of any doubts as stated, though the reality is not as cloudless as it might seem. In accordance with the story in question, Cook used this all-embracing equality rule in order to make international news on his sexual orientation and become a role model for others to follow as a spontaneous outcome. Moreover, this right is guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) as an inborn manifestation of human dignity and freedom. Of course, this formulation is an idealized theoretical perception of the analyzed issue in general. Following this rationale, homosexual-to-heterosexual equality is to be comprehended as given.
By the same token, the real-life presentation of homosexuality within a community context is prosaic and routine. As Kibbe (2014) has put it, people at large and sexual minorities, in particular, have become victims of politicians who gained excessive control over their lives, which is executed from Washington directly, while people’s individual decisions are a rarity. Therefore, Cook has managed to rebel against such hopelessness and pursue his personal freedom and right on sexual and social dignity as it has been defined, but has not been practiced. Furthermore, it is relevant to assume that the CEO’s decision to reveal his sexuality to the public is based on Kibbe’s (2014) brave claim ascertaining that “our values define our tactics.” In a generalized sense, society, which has been blind for a while with regard to the multidimensional equality rights proclaimed long ago, has to reshape its values in this direction and make practice fit theory the way it should be.
On the contrary, the laws in their entirety are directed at maintaining stability in life and determined by attempts to prevent violation of people’s rights and property among other issues. In this case, it seems weird how non-traditional sexuality can be measured as a potential threat to the occurrence of the aforementioned violation of any type. Nonetheless, stereotypes that have overwhelming control over the mindset of Americans and have been initiated by governing bodies through authorities make the general population believe that such a threat exists. Consequently, there is a need to convey these facts to the general public as well as make sure that “homophobic legislators and their fellow promoters of hate now stop using their ‘gay’ Western technologies”. Individual dignity and freedom are innate, and this factor refers to each human, respectful of race, gender or sexual orientation.
Drawing upon the reasoning by Reich (2013), who recognizes same-sex relationships as legal and natural, the problem requires a multilevel approach to be addressed precisely.
First, prejudices are ruling the minds of millions excessively as implications of modern culture, and such people as Cook face these inadequate attitudes in daily life when their nontraditional sexual orientation becomes open to the public. In particular, the US community experiences a crisis of morality because obsolete social standards encounter up-to-date social beliefs when gay parades and rights are recognized and welcomed. Hence, the situation of Apple’s CEO should be an encouraging moment in this paradigm shift.
What is more, this contradiction is linked to not only cultural but also the legal domain of social life. The issue is nationwide, with different fluctuations from state to state. For instance, a recent court case in Indiana has been an attempt to reconsider acceptance of the same-sex marriage in this region and revive interpreting and definition of marriage as such in retrospect, from a historical viewpoint. Similarly, issues of the same character have been observed in Kentucky. Thus, the struggle faced by LGBT people is evident in relation either to Cook as a celebrity or to ordinary people, for example.
At the same time, American society is overwhelmed with politicians attempting to cover their self-interest and economic gains behind this acute problem. As a result, homosexuality is chosen as a subject of speculation over public opinion when the general population has to be distracted from economy-related concerns. In this regard, policies and legislations with seemingly gay-positive attitudes are of declarative nature, such as the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Moreover, the significance of these modified laws, as well as any attempts to review them, is diminished in the political field as soon as some issue of economic value is concerned. However, Cook’s situation shows that the problem is extremely topical even for higher social layers, while society is ready to change its behavior, as population surveys evidence.
Also, with respect to Reich’s position, it is relevant to refer to the story as an example to follow. Specifically, Apple’s CEO as a representative of rich and powerful acknowledged his sexuality to the world, and this should be a substantial driving force enabling the political system to update legislation in this regard not de jure but de facto. Since in this case the upper social stratum is involved, this fact has to entice changes to be implemented. In this way, money and success of a newly introduced gay can result in shifting the focus of politicians from economic to homosexuality and LGBT rights.
Functionalism vs. Homosexuality
The functionalist approach to heterosexuality is considered through the prism of legal norms. Whereas contemporary laws and regulations are initiated by heterosexuals, dominating over minorities and any manifestations of otherness, the representatives of this school of philosophical thought would oppose Cook’s issue as well. Undoubtedly, they would be the individuals ascertaining that “the fact that Tim Cook is gay will “corrupt” the brand”. The aforementioned brand refers not only to the world’s best corporation of 2013-2014 but also the stereotypical heterosexual nature of successful and famous top managers as this image is habituated in the US society. Therefore, such a stereotyped worldview is aimed at the preservation of a variety of social institutions such as family and establishing intra-community stability. In this respect, a noisy announcement by Cook is a source of instability and a threat to hetero-sexist existence simultaneously.
At the same time, the US legislation has a foundation for recognition of same-sex relationships, involving the DOMA, but its content is rather blurred. Although it seemingly recognizes one-sex unions as legal and reviews the definitions of marriage as such, the further is yet to be clarified. As a result, this inconsistency enables specific adjustments into the functionalist position, though implicitly. On the one hand, since the approach itself is legislation-focused, this circumstance means that functionalism has to reconsider its initial theorizing with respect to the gay issue. By the same token, imperfection and, to some extent, non-finished context set by this Act allows room for functionalist doubts in this regard, emphasizing underclass positioning of sexual minorities in a society founded on heterosexual dogmas.
It follows that Cook has publicly traded his sexual orientation within the functionalism-centric society, where sexuality is “a reminder of gulf legislation and social emotions”. If such an announcement would have been made a decade ago or earlier, this philosophical direction would have strictly rejected its manifestation as a threat to potential generations and continuation of society in its entirety. In accordance with this perspective, only heterosexuals are capable of giving birth to offspring and bringing them up appropriately. However, the above-indicated legislation is a step forward towards maintaining homosexuality as a social norm in the future, and it increases intra-community awareness on the issue. What is more, the transition is projected in the long run. In any case, Cook’s situation is a direct indicator of this mindset transformation.
The paper discussed the issue of homosexuality as it implies the case of Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, in the light of standpoints by Nader, Kibbe, Reich, and functionalism. Although all of the paradigms proposed a specified approach to the problem in question, there is one common thing that can be traced between these worldviews. In particular, it is clear that society is ready to modify its position on nontraditional sexuality, but the process is to be enhanced.