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Apple CEO, Jazz owners and tech leaders offer support to LGBTQ center

Dwyane Wade
Posted at 4:10 PM, Oct 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-13 18:34:03-04

SALT LAKE CITY — Apple CEO Tim Cook joined the owners of the Utah Jazz, the lead singer of the band Imagine Dragons and Governor Spencer Cox to support Encircle, an LGBTQ resource center in its expansion plans.

At a news conference at the Silicon Slopes Summit, Encircle announced it had completed an $8 million expansion plan, thanks in part to recent donations from Cook and Domo CEO Josh James. The donations allow Encircle to build eight new homes for LGBTQ youth.

In addition, Encircle announced plans to build new resource centers in Arizona, Idaho, Nevada and across Utah. They provide help, including mental health therapy, for LGBTQ and resources for their families as they work toward acceptance.

"Encircle’s mission is very personal to me because I see myself in so many of these young people," Cook said. "I understand what it can feel like to be isolated, or like you can’t share your truth with anyone else. It’s not easy when you’re made to feel different or less than because of who you are or who you love."

Among those backing Encircle are the new owners of the Utah Jazz, Qualtrics owners Ryan and Ashley Smith, and retired NBA All-Star Dwyane Wade. Speaking to reporters, Wade said he is the father of a transgender daughter.

"I stand here as a proud parent of my beautiful daughter that’s a part of the LGBT-plus community," he said. "I stand here as an ally."

Governor Spencer Cox praised Encircle for its work toward LGBTQ acceptance, and noted the high rates of suicide for those youth who are rejected. Among LGBTQ youth who are accepted?

"The rates plunge," he said.

The governor, who is also appearing at a fundraiser event for Encircle, urged people to support the cause.

"There are really a lot of powerful and influential people in this room and there’s nobody that matters more than these kids that are sitting behind us right now," the governor said, referring to LGBTQ youth in the audience.