Apple CEO Tim Cook on Thursday publicly acknowledged he is gay, but his sexual orientation has long been known in the tech community and beyond.
In fact, Business Insider named Cook as one of the most important LGBT people in tech back in December 2013.
In light of Cook’s coming-out, we are re-running our list of the most important LGBT people in tech. (We’ve also decided against ranking this list.)
As Business Insider’s Jim Edwards has noted, it’s unfortunate that some famous, successful gay people like Cook might feel pressured to talk about their personal lives while straight CEOs can maintain their privacy.
Still, it takes courage to give up that privacy in order to inspire others to be more open or insist on equality for gays.
Cathy Brooks, a lesbian activist, previously worked at Seesmic and founded a digital marketing firm. She also hosts a podcast about tech/society. But Brooks dropped her career to pursue her passion for dogs back in February 2013. She opened up a private dog park and training academy for dogs in Las Vegas and founded The Hydrant Club, a place for cool canines to 'romp and learn.'
Lisa Brummel has been with Microsoft ever since she graduated from college in 1989. Brummel has held a variety of positions at the tech giant, but has since become the executive vice president of human resources. Brummel is the one who informed employees that Microsoft would axe its controversial stack-ranking system -- a system that hurt morale by turning teammates into competitors.
Apple CEO Tim Cook is the most powerful gay man in technology. Even before he came out publicly on Thursday, Cook spoke out about gay rights and discrimination.
'Now is the time to write these basic principles of human dignity into the book of law,' Cook said in his acceptance speech for a lifetime achievement award from Auburn University.
Last year, Cook wrote an open letter in The Wall Street Journal encouraging Congress to pass a law that would provide equal rights to gay and lesbian employees.
Since taking charge of Apple in 2011, Cook has led Apple through significant product upgrades like the iPhone 5S, iPad Air, and iOS 7.
Nick Denton is the mastermind behind Gawker Media, the online publishing network behind sites like Valleywag, Deadspin, Jezebel, Kinja, and Lifehacker.
Jason Goldberg, CEO and founder of Fab and Hem, is a force to be reckoned with in the startup industry. Fab was roiled by pivots and layoffs last year, but Goldberg still raised $US165 million in new funding. Fab was Goldberg's third startup, the previous two being Socialmedian and Jobster.
Chris Hughes, a Facebook co-founder, left the social network to join the Obama campaign in 2007. He later purchased The New Republic and serves as its 'Editor in Chief.'
A few years after starting Buddy Media with Mike and Kass Lazerow, the company sold to enterprise industry giant Salesforce. Today, Ragovin is chief strategy officer of the Salesforce Marketing Cloud, where he's in charge of the company's social marketing solutions.
Ragovin is also involved with StartOut, a nonprofit organisation to fuel LGBT entrepreneurship.
In 2012, Kane Sarhan teamed up with Shaila Ittycheria to launch Enstitute, an on-the-job alternative to attending college.
Enstitute helps place aspiring entrepreneurs in apprenticeship-like programs. Enstitute places its students at startups like Thrillist, Tracks, and Bitly. Halfway through its pilot program in 2012, 70% of students received preliminary full-time offers for permanent jobs.
Prior to co-founding Enstitute, Sarhan worked as the creative director at hot New York-based startup LocalResponse.
Darrell Silver, an entrepreneur whose first company Perpetually sold to Dell, is back with a startup called Thinkful.
Thinkful is an online school that offers one-on-one education in the programming language Python and front-end Web development.
Thinkful is part of a new generation of productivity tools, Microsoft former President of Windows Steven Sinofsky has said.
Joel Simkahi is the brains behind one of the hottest dating apps for gay men, Grindr.
Grindr first gained popularity in 2009 and has been downloaded millions of times.
Darren Spedale is the founder of FamilyByDesign and StartOut, a national nonprofit dedicated to fueling LGBT entrepreneurship. Back in 2010, Spedale rang the opening bell on the New York Stock Exchange on behalf of StartOut.
Sperling first came out in college, while studying at the University of California Irvine. She joined Facebook in 2010.
Peter Thiel, famous for being Facebook's first investor and the co-founder and former CEO of PayPal, is the brains behind the Thiel Foundation. As part of the two-year fellowship, 20 teenagers receive $US100,000 to drop out of college and start a company.
As both a VC and entrepreneur, Thiel has been involved with companies like Palantir Technologies, Founders Fund, and Facebook, where Thiel was the social network's first outside investor and director.
Thiel is also the founder and president of Clarium Capital.
Owen Thomas, the current editor-in-chief of ReadWrite, is the epitome of a Silicon Valley insider. Thomas is the one who 'transformed Valleywag into the Silicon Valley's authority on tech gossip.'
Disclosure: I used to work with Owen during his time at Business Insider.
Edith Windsor, a former IBM engineer, became an unlikely activist in the gay rights movement. Back in 2010, Windsor sued the government for a $US363,053 refund of the estate taxes she had to pay when her spouse passed away. The Supreme Court ultimately decided in her favour, marking the first the US-recognised marriage between partners of the same sex.
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