Proud to be gay: Apple CEO Tim Cook

New York: Apple CEO Tim Cook on Thrusday said he is 'proud to be gay', publicly acknowledging his sexual orientation for the first time.

Apple CEO Tim Cook
Apple CEO Tim Cook. Pic/AFP

The 53-year-old high-profile American business executive hoped that his coming out could help people 'struggling' to come to terms with their sexual identities and inspire them to 'insist on their equality'.

"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 said in an essay for Bloomberg Businessweek.

Tim Cook's revelation makes him one of the most high-profile and successful CEOs who is gay. Cook said his decision to publicly acknowledge his sexual orientation stems from the realisation that his "desire for personal privacy has been holding me back from doing something more important."

"Being gay has given me a deeper understanding of what it means to be in the minority and provided a window into the challenges that people in other minority groups deal with every day. It's made me more empathetic, which has led to a richer life.

"It's also given me the skin of a rhinoceros, which comes in handy when you¿re the CEO of Apple," said Cook, who took over the reins of one of the most profitable companies in the world following the death of its founder Steve Jobs in 2011. Cook, who has been fiercely secretive about his personal life said he comes from humble roots and does not seek to draw attention to himself.

"It was not an easy choice for me to let go of my privacy which remains important to me. I don¿t consider myself an activist, but I realise how much I¿ve benefited from the sacrifice of others," he 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," he added.

Drawing inspiration from legendary American civil rights activist Martin Luther King, Cook said he is greeted by framed photos of King and Robert Kennedy in his office everyday.

"I don't pretend that writing this puts me in their league. All it does is allow me to look at those pictures and know that I'm doing my part, however small, to help others. We pave the sunlit path toward justice together, brick by brick. This is my brick," he said.

He also applauded a recent White House decision to ban gay discrimination at federal contractors. Cook was named the most powerful LGBT (Lesbian, Gays,Bisexual and Transgender) person on Out magazine's 2013 power list.

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