Apple CEO Tim Cook publicly confirmed he is gay in an opinion piece published Thursday advocating for human rights and equality.
In the essay published by Businessweek, Cook says he was inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King, citing the quote "Life's most persistent question is, 'What are you doing for others?'"
"While I have never denied my sexuality, I haven't publicly acknowledged it either, until now," writes Cook. "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 says he's been privately open with others about being gay, but felt compelled to come out to help others. "I don't consider myself an activist, but I realize how much I've benefited from the sacrifice of others," writes Cook. "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."
Cook's piece published days after the Apple CEO criticized his home state of Alabama over gay rights. "We can't change the past, but we can learn from it, and we can create a different future," said Cook.
This is not the first time Cook's sexuality has been addressed. In June, CNBC hosted a segment on gay CEOs where one host seemd to out Cook as gay. "I think Tim Cook is fairly open about the fact that he is gay at the head of Apple, isn't he?" said Squawk on the Street co-host Simon Hobbs, causing an awkward silence. Hobbs quickly followed with "Oh dear, was that an error?"
Cook says the decision to reveal his sexuality was difficult, and hopes people focus more on his efforts running the tech giant. "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."