Apple CEO Tim Cook on Thursday confirmed he is gay saying many of his colleagues have known this for a long time, but he felt it was time to go public.
“While I have never denied my sexuality, I haven’t publicly acknowledged it either, until now,” Cook wrote in an oped in Business Week. “So let me be clear: I’m proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me.”
Cook’s sexual orientation has long been a subject of media speculation with Out magazine naming him to its 2013 list of the most powerful LGBT Americans — he was ranked No. 1.
Under his leadership, Apple supported workplace equality bill in US congress, backed marriage equality in California and opposed an Arizona state bill that targeted gays.
But, as Cook, 53, wrote, he never acknowledged his sexual orientation until now, which made him the most prominent gay business executive, heading a $603 billion company.
The admission comes close on the heels of a highly successful launch of iPhones 6 and 6+, unrolling of Apple Pay and the announcement of Apple Watch, the first Cook-era device.
But he doesn’t explain the timing. He merely said, contextualizing it, “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”.
And it wasn’t easy coming out. “I’ll admit that this wasn’t an easy choice. Privacy remains important to me, and I’d like to hold on to a small amount of it.”
Being gay, he wrote, has helped him understand better challenges that people in minority groups face every day.
“It’s been tough and uncomfortable at times, but it has given me the confidence to be myself, to follow my own path, and to rise above adversity and bigotry.”
It has also “given me the skin of a rhinoceros, which comes in handy when you’re the CEO of Apple.”