Tim Cook became the first Fortune 500 chief executive to admit publicly that he is gay, and his message encourages the LGBT community to stand up.

Tim Cook could arguably be the most well-known leader in Corporate America. However, until today, even he would not admit his sexual orientation – even as rumors and speculation dated back years. In fact, as the Apple CEO ‘came out’ in an op-ed piece published by Bloomberg BusinessWeek.

He went in his personal essay to reflect on his life to date, how he feels about his sexuality, and even talked about the perspective he says it has given him. “Let me be clear: I’m proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me,” he said sternly in his piece.

Tim Cook is 53-years-old, and even as speculation has ran wild throughout the tech world, and Corporate America, many have wondered when this day would come – and if it would come when he was at the helm of Apple.

That day came, and it passed without the world giving up, or quitting on Apple. “Apple is already one of the most closely watched companies in the world, and I like keeping the focus on our products and incredible things our customers achieve with them,” Cook said, as he explained why his wait to ‘come out’ took as long as it did.

His public exercise of honesty though was intended to help. There were a host of reasons why Cook decided that it was time to officially ‘come out’. He has talked about frequently within the Silicon Valley, the challenges he faced as a child when he was growing up in Alabama. This combined with the fact that corporate sexual identity norms also were major factors in his reasoning to ‘come out’.

It’s been a widely-reported statistic in the last day that according to a Deloitte report, 83% of gay, lesbian, and bisexual people hide aspects of their identity at work. However, tech companies located in the Silicon Valley, have been taking increasingly progressive stances on gay rights in the workplace. Twitter, Intel, and Apple even offer more inclusive health packages which are more favorable to gay employees, and their partners.

Tim Cook spoke out because he identified that it was time and that others should feel the same comfort in coming out that he did. He noted that even if his op-ed piece helped just one individual be more comfortable coming out as well, then it was well-worth it.

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