THE chief executive of major technology company Apple has publicly come out as gay in an essay published in Bloomberg Businessweek.

Tim Cook (pictured above) has never spoken publicly about being gay, although he said he has been open with many people, including colleagues at Apple, about his sexual orientation.

In the essay that was published yesterday, Cook wrote: “Let me be clear: I’m proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me.”

The 53-year-old’s public coming out makes him the most prominent company chief executive  to do so, and sees him joining a small list of openly-gay executives of major corporate companies.

Cook explained that he previously never publicly spoke about his sexual orientation because he wanted to keep his personal life private.

“Apple is already one of the most closely watched companies in the world and I like keeping the focus on our products and the incredible things our customers achieve with them,” he said in his essay.

Since taking over the helm of Apple in 2011 after Steve Jobs resigned, Cook has publicly supported marriage equality, supported a workplace equality bill in California, where his company’s headquarters are based, and has spoken against a bill in Arizona that discriminated against same-sex attracted people.

Cook has also enacted inclusive policies to encourage gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans* candidates to work for Apple.

LGBTI rights advocates around the world have applauded Cook for his essay, including the largest LGBTI civil rights group in the US.

“Tim Cook’s announcement today will save countless lives,” the Human Rights Campaign said in a statement.

“He has always been a role model, but today millions across the globe will draw inspiration from a different aspect of his life.”

The news was also met with much praise on social media, with Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg even chiming in.

“Thank you Tim for showing what it means to be a real, courageous and authentic leader,” he said.

Click here to read Tim Cook’s full essay in Bloomberg Businessweek

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