Apple boss Tim Cook has spoken publicly on his sexuality for the first time, revealing he is “proud to be gay.”

On Thursday, the tech CEO who succeeded Steve Jobs wrote in Businessweek that he has never publicly acknowledged his sexuality “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.

“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.

“Of course, I’ve had the good fortune to work at a company that loves creativity and innovation and knows it can only flourish when you embrace people’s differences. Not everyone is so lucky.”

He added that being gay had given him a “deeper understanding” of what it means to be a minority.

“It’s also given me the skin of a rhinoceros, which comes in handy when you’re the CEO of Apple,” he continued.

On Tuesday, Mr Cook hit out at his home state of Alabama for lagging behind the majority of the US on issues of LGBT equality.

He said: “We were too slow on equality on African-Americans. We were too slow on interracial marriage. And we are still too slow on equality for the LBGT community.

“All of us share the responsibility of making us equal.”

Mr Cook marched in the San Francisco Pride parade for the first time in June.

Despite never publicly addressing his sexuality, Cook topped Out Magazine’s power list three years in a row between 2011 and 2013.

He came second on this year’s list, edged out by TV host Ellen DeGeneres.

A CNBC host was criticized earlier this year after appearing to ‘out’ Cook on news discussion show Squawk on the Street.