I'm proud to be gay - Apple boss Cook
Apple boss Tim Cook has said he is "proud to be gay" and hopes that in coming out he can help others come to terms with their sexuality.
In an essay in US magazine Businessweek, the 53-year-old head of the technology giant admitted it had not been an easy decision.
"While I have never denied my sexuality, I haven't publicly acknowledged it either. 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 wrote.
The Alabama native has led Apple since the death of former CEO and co-founder Steve Jobs in 2011.
"I don't consider myself an activist, but I realise I've benefited from the sacrifice of others," Mr Cook 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."
Since taking over as CEO, Mr Cook has overseen the introduction and launch of five new iPhones, including the current iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, as well as 7 new iPads.
Under Mr Cook, Apple also bought Beats Audio, the headphones and music firm owned by rapper Dr Dre, in a multi-billion dollar deal.
Mr Cook said that while he has taken this step to speak publicly, he wishes to remain private.
"I'll admit that this wasn't an easy choice," he said. "Privacy remains important to me, and I'd like to hold on to a small amount of it. I've made Apple my life's work, and I will continue to spend virtually all of my waking time focused on being the best CEO I can be.
"Part of social progress is understanding 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."
Mr Cook has been a long-standing supporter of LGBT rights, criticising his home state for its lack of action over gay rights.
Last month, he tweeted his support to Apple employees and their families who were marching during the Pride parade in Austin, Texas, saying "inclusion inspires innovation".