Apple boss Tim Cook has revealed he is “proud to be gay” and hopes that in publicly coming out he can help others come to terms with their sexuality.
In an essay in US magazine Businessweek, the 53-year-old head of the technology giant admitted it had not been an easy decision.
“While I have never denied my sexuality, I haven’t publicly acknowledged it, either – until now. So let me be clear: I’m proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me,” he wrote.
He has led Apple since the death of the company’s former CEO and co-founder Steve Jobs in 2011.
“I don’t consider myself an activist, but I realise how much I’ve benefited from the sacrifice of others,” Mr Cook said.
“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.”
Since taking over as CEO, Mr Cook has overseen the introduction and launch of five new iPhones, including the current iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, as well as seven new iPads, including the iPad Mini.
Mr Cook said that while he has taken the step to speak publicly, he wishes to remain private in the long-term.
“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. I’ve made Apple my life’s work, and I will continue to spend virtually all of my waking time focused on being the best CEO I can be.
“Part of social progress is understanding that a person is not defined only by one’s sexuality, race, or gender. I’m an engineer, an uncle, a nature lover, a fitness nut, a son of the South, a sports fanatic, and many other things.”
According to an Interbrand best global brands report, Apple is currently the world’s No1 brand, with a valuation of $118.9 billion (£74bn). Earlier this month, the firm also announced record iPhone sales.
Mr Cook, who previously served on the board of sportswear giant Nike, has been a long-standing supporter of LGBT rights, criticising his home state of Alabama for its lack of action over gay rights. In a speech earlier this week, he said: “We can’t change the past but we can learn from it and we can create a different future.”
Last month, he also tweeted his support to Apple employees and their families who were marching during a gay pride parade in Austin, Texas.