Apple CEO Tim Cook declared he was "proud to be gay" in a self-written article published Thursday on Bloomberg Businessweek, and adds that he considers being gay as "among the greatest gifts God has given me."

Cook's coming out about his sexuality makes him "the most prominent executive of a public company to come out," says Mike Isaac of the New York Times.

Tim Cook "has never spoken publicly about his sexual orientation in the many years he has worked in the spotlight at Apple. While he has never talked about it publicly, Mr. Cook's sexuality has been a widely open secret in Silicon Valley," Isaac writes. "With his essay, Mr. Cook becomes the most prominent gay man in the corporate world, joining a very short list of openly gay executives at public companies."

Cook says in his article that he has tried to maintain his privacy throughout his professional life, since he did not want to garner attention to himself, rather preferring people to talk about Apple and its products.

Cook writes, "I've come to realize that my desire for personal privacy has been holding me back from doing something more important. For years, I've been open with many people about my sexual orientation. Plenty of colleagues at Apple know I'm gay, and it doesn't seem to make a difference in the way they treat me."

"While I have never denied my sexuality, I haven't publicly acknowledged it either, until now. 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 adds.

Gay and lesbian magazine "Out" has placed Tim Cook at the head of its annual Top 50 list, according to Reuters.

"As the first CEO of a Fortune 500 company to reveal he is gay, Tim helps make the business world a bit less homophobic," said Marianne Duddy-Burke, executive director of DignityUSA, a gay rights organization.