Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, came out publically as gay for the first time on Thursday in an essay.

Tim Cook Comes Out

Cook, 53, has long been rumored to be gay. However, until Thursday, the tech CEO had yet to publically address his sexuality.

"For years, I’ve been open with many people about my sexual orientation," Cook wrote in an essay for Bloomberg Businessweek. "Plenty of colleagues at Apple know I’m gay, and it doesn’t seem to make a difference in the way they treat me. Of course, I’ve had the good fortune to work at a company that loves creativity and innovation and knows it can only flourish when you embrace people’s differences. Not everyone is so lucky."

"While I have never denied my sexuality, I haven’t publicly acknowledged it either, until now," Cook added. "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 went on to explain why he considers being gay a gift, including his understanding of being in the minority, empathy, confidence and an ability to flourish in adversity. He also quipped, "It’s also given me the skin of a rhinoceros, which comes in handy when you’re the CEO of Apple."

Answering the question of why he was deciding to come out now, Cook revealed that it felt like the right thing to do, taking his cues from Martin Luther King Jr. and John F. Kennedy. In order for their to be progress, people need to be vocal and open. He notes that one voice, his voice, could help others.

"I don’t consider myself an activist, but I realize how much I’ve benefited from the sacrifice of others," Cook explained. "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."

Following Cook's coming out, both the Human Rights Campaign and GLAAD have voiced their support for the Fortune 500 CEO.

"Tim Cook's announcement today will save countless lives," aid HRC President Chad Griffin. "He has always been a role model, but today millions across the globe will draw inspiration from a different aspect of his life."

GLAAD CEO Sarah Kate Ellis, added, "As a person of faith, a son of the south, and the CEO of one of the world's largest companies, Tim Cook's story reaches from church pews to the C-Suite, sending a powerful message to countless people that anyone can live the life they love."

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