Apple CEO Tim Cook has spoken about his coming out as gay while heading up the world’s most valuable company.
Cook, 57, sat down with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour for an in-depth interview broadcast on Wednesday, in which he discussed his sexuality.
“I’m very proud of it,” he said, adding that being gay is “God’s greatest gift to me.”
Although he had never hidden that he was gay, it was only in 2014 that he decided to come out publicly. By doing so he became the first Chief Executive of a Fortune 500 company to come out as gay.
Cook told Amanpour that it was “kind of shocking” that he was the first to have done so, and went on to explain his motivation for coming out.
“I began to receive stories from kids who read something online that I was gay. They were going through being bullied, feeling like their family didn’t love them, being pushed out of their home, very close to suicide. Things that really just pulled my heart,” said Cook.
“And I started saying, ‘you know, I am a private person and so I’ve kept me to my small circle,’ and I started thinking, ‘that is a selfish thing to do at this point. I need to be bigger than that, I need to to do something for them and show them that you can be gay and still go on and do some big jobs in life; that there is a path there’. That is the reason I did it. I didn’t do it for other CEOs to come out.”
Cook took over as head of Apple in August 2011, following the death of the company’s co-founder, Steve Jobs. He has become a vocal advocate for the LGBTQ community and a role model as a gay achiever in business.
Cook’s net worth is estimated to be $625.37 million. He’s said that after paying for his nephew’s college education, he plans to donate his wealth to charity when he dies. “You want to be the pebble in the pond that creates the ripple for change,” Cook told Fortune in 2015.