Apple CEO Tim Cook has acknowledged today for the first time publicly that he is gay.
The 53-year-old executive came out in his Bloomberg Businessweek column on Thursday where he declared that he's proud to be gay.
This revelation puts Cook as the most prominent CEO to come out of the closet. While he has never spoken publicly about his sexual orientation bfore, he says that many Apple employees knew and he never considered it a big deal to reveal.
But he soon realized that coming out means more than just revealing your private business to the world.
"I don't consider myself an activist, but I realize how much I've benefited from the sacrifice of others," he said in the column. "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."
Apple's board chairman, Arthur D. Levinson, said that Cook has the board's "wholehearted support and admiration in making this courageous personal statement."
Cook took over as Apple's CEO on August 24, 2011, after Steve Job resigned for medical reasons. He started working for the tech company in 1998, being recruited by Jobs to serve as Senior Vice President of Worldwide Operations. At the time, Cook served as Compaq's VP for Corporate Materials.
Cook brought the ailing Apple from the downward spiral it suffered at its lowest point in 1998 ($6 billion in revenue) to its current place as a global technology leader with a reported annual revenue of over $100 billion in 2012. His investment in flash memory technology and his keen business sense helped catapult the company to its current position.
Tim Cook is now the only openly gay CEO on the Fortune 500 list.