Tim Cook's coming out is historic: Openly gay CEO

Burgess: Tim Cook can be tremendous force for change

Apple CEO Tim Cook publicly came out as gay on Thursday, saying he hoped to support others who find it difficult to reveal their sexual orientation, a move praised by openly gay executives.

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To Trevor Burgess, who in August as CEO of C1 Bank in St. Petersburg, Florida, became the first openly gay CEO of a publicly listed bank, Cook's statement is nothing less than groundbreaking.

"Today will go down as a real seminal moment in American business history," Burgess told CNBC on Thursday. "As the leader of the most valuable business in the world, he can be a tremendous force for change in really thinking about how young gay and lesbian students, kids can dream an American dream and how they can rise through the ranks and be a leader."

Tim Cook
China Daily | Reuters

A "generational" barrier has left few openly gay executives in business today, Burgess said on "Squawk on the Street." Older executives who were hesitant to be open about their sexuality will soon retire, likely succeeded by a younger generational of openly gay men and women, he said.

"There are many, many, many openly gay and lesbian executives who are just below the C-suite who now will be entering it and I think this will quickly be a story of the past," Burgess said.

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Asked whether Cook's admission might negatively impact Apple's business, Burgess didn't "think so at all."

"If I look at my own experience in taking my company public two months ago, my business was only helped by the experience," he said.

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"The reaction was universally positive and I gained more clients from it and fundamentally I think that's because that people care about the quality of the product and service that you deliver to the consumer and Apple is better at that than anybody else."

Read Cook's full commentary here.