Apple CEO Tim Cook, whose sexuality has long been the subject of rumors despite his insistence on privacy, announced he is gay in an essay for Bloomberg Businessweek on Thursday.

"While I have never denied my sexuality, I haven't publicly acknowledged it either, until now," Cook writes. "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 writes that despite the hardships that have along with being gay, he believes being gay has "given me the confidence to be myself, to follow my own path, and to rise above the adversity and bigotry ... [and] the skin of a rhinoceros, which comes in handy when you're the CEO of Apple."

"I don't consider myself an activist, but I realize how much I've benefited from others," Cook writes. "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."

In June, a CNBC panelist "outed" Cook during a segment, saying "I think Tim Cook is fairly open about the fact that he's gay at the head of Apple, isn't he?" New York Times columnist James Stewart, the guest on the CNBC panel, said gay CEOs were reluctant to acknowledge their sexuality.