"While I have never denied my sexuality, I haven't publicly acknowledged it either, until now," Cook writes in an essay for Bloomberg BusinessWeek. "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 goes on to state:
"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 been tough and uncomfortable at times, but it has given me the confidence to be myself, to follow my own path, and to rise above adversity and bigotry. It's also given me the skin of a rhinoceros, which comes in handy when you're the CEO of Apple."
Cook was ranked No. 2 this year on Out's annual Power List; he was No. 1 last year (but it was difficult to maintain the top spot while he remained closeted).
Cook says he hopes to maintain his privacy despite this admission: "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," he writes, adding that in addition to being gay he's also "an engineer, an uncle, a nature lover, a fitness nut, a son of the South, a sports fanatic, and many other things."