Apple CEO Tim Cook confirmed Tuesday that he identifies as gay, and in doing so instantly becomes the most prominent openly gay business executive.
“While I have never denied my sexuality, I haven’t publicly acknowledged it either, until now,” Cook says in an essay for Bloomberg BusinessWeek. “So let me be clear: I’m proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me.“
Over the past couple of years Cook has taken a number of strong positions in favor of LGBT rights, but had chosen not to discuss his sexuality.
“I don’t consider myself an activist, but I realize how much I’ve benefited from the sacrifice of others,” Cook writes in the essay. “So if hearing that the CEO of Apple is gay can help someone struggling to come to terms with who he or she is, or bring comfort to anyone who feels alone, or inspire people to insist on their equality, then it’s worth the trade-off with my own privacy.”
Last year, he gave a poignant speech at an event for his alma mater, Auburn University, in which he talked about experience discrimination firsthand as he grew up, though he did not get into specifics.
He also wrote an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal calling on Congress to outlaw job discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
Though Cook had not publicly declared his sexuality until now, Out magazine already hadnamed him to its “Power List” of LGBT executives.