Following months of hopeful speculation, Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple and thus, one of the most important men in the world, has publicly come out as a gay man. Cook acknowledged his orientation publicly in an exceptionally powerful essay for Businessweek in which he writes:
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.
Cook, 53, says that he was already out privately and many of his Apple colleagues were also aware that he is a gay man.
Although he writes that he doesn’t consider himself an activist, Cook has been a longtime supporter of LGBT rights and was opposed to California’s discriminatory Proposition 8. Earlier this week, Cook visited his home state of Alabama and publicly chided Gov. Robert Bentley for his appalling stance on marriage equality.
Cook writes that his decision to come out to the world wasn’t an easy one, saying:
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. That’s what our employees deserve—and our customers, developers, shareholders, and supplier partners deserve it, too. 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. I hope that people will respect my desire to focus on the things I’m best suited for and the work that brings me joy.
Words of support from Cook’s peers and friends came quickly, including this tweet from Richard Branson:
Inspirational words from Apple CEO Tim Cook on being gay, and standing up for equality http://t.co/5UXOc6vGY9
— Richard Branson (@richardbranson) October 30, 2014
Watch Businessweek editor Josh Tyrangiel discuss being approached by Cook to tell his story and what prompted him to come forward at this point in time.