The Forbes 2014 list of 1600 richest billionaires includes only 0.4% of people who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. These CEOs and entrepreneurs have been relatively open in both their private and public lives about their sexuality, but not every person who identifies as LGBT feels the need to come forward. It is, then, very possible that the Forbes list of billionaires contains more than the official small percentage.
Joining the LGBT billionaires are the millionaires who dominate this list, at least one of whom has only recently stated publicly that he is a proud gay man. There are many reasons for wanting to share or hide this information with the world. Some believe doing so will help the cause of LGBT rights. Others have never made an attempt to hide their sexuality although still others have purposely kept their sexuality hidden to avoid repercussions from their business colleagues.
Ranked from least rich to most rich, the following LGBT millionaires and billionaires all agree that their sexual orientation has – of course – no impact on their professional competence. Some financial giants, such as Wall Street executives, have argued being open is the best thing for the prosperity of any business.
15. Trevor Burgess
The New York Stock Exchange recently welcomed a new addition to their roster of the super wealthy and successful. Trevor Burgess, CEO of C1 Bank based in Florida, has become the first openly gay CEO of a publicly listed bank. The bank successfully completed their IPO (Initial Public Offering) in August, 2014 to the tune of over $44 million dollars. The leaders of Wall Street congratulated and welcomed C1 Bank to their group. They believe that people who are upfront about their sexual preferences are more productive and engaged which “directly impacts the success of their organizations.”
14. Michael Kors
Michael Kors is another fashion giant in this list who made his name across the world with womenswear. His fashion company went public in 2011 and is now worth billions. Kors has experienced some ups and downs in his fashion career. In 1993, his business went bankrupt, but he rose to the top again in 2004 and became a household name as a judge for the reality TV show, Project Runway. His company, Michael Kors LLC, went from profits of $100 million in 2003 to approximately $20 billion today.
13. Peter Thiel
Most internet entrepreneurs are nothing compared to Peter Thiel, cofounder of Paypal — the largest online payment system in the world, and the outside investor of Facebook – of which he owns a little over $700 million worth in profits. Thiel is also openly gay which some have said has played a big part in his general commitment to changing the rules of venture capital investing and breaking new ground.
12. Tim Gill
Tim Gill made his millions in computer software when he started Quarks in the early 1980s. With just a $2000 loan from his parents, he turned the software company into a multi-million dollar corporation, making himself hugely wealthy. After selling his 50 percent share in Quarks, Gill dedicated himself to LGBTQ activism and has invested over $200 million in non-profit charities across the United States.
11. Robert Hanson
Robert Hanson wrote in Time magazine that ever since he has been a business leader he has been an openly gay man. Hanson is the CEO of luxury jeweller John Hardy, director of Constellation Brands, and former CEO of American Eagle Outfitters – his work as a business leader has, of course, made him a millionaire. He urges people to be open and accepting of a diverse workforce and asserts that such diversity can be a source of strength rather than weakness.
10. Christopher Baily
Christopher Bailey is the new millionaire CEO of Burberry, a luxury fashion company, and the first openly gay CEO of a company on the FTSE 100 Company list. He leads the company on many fronts including design, marketing, and digital innovation. His spot as the first openly gay CEO in the FTSE 100 Company list has earned some attention as media eagerly watch his developments and newly-found success.
9. Lord Browne
Lord Browne was the CEO of BP (British Petroleum), a massive oil and gas company that has been known in the press for some nasty accidents. He was outed for being gay by a tabloid seven before he began to discuss his sexuality. He kept his sexuality a secret for years and feared ridicule from his colleagues. Not only did he help manage a profitable corporation, he also wrote a book about his generally positive experiences coming out. Here’s hoping that he spends some of his millions on supporting gay and LGBT causes that could help thousands.
8. Tim Cook
On October 30, 2014, Apple CEO Tim Cook came out as openly gay in Businessweek. However, he wasn’t in the closet. Cook has been openly gay in his personal life for years, but the article was the first time he discussed his sexuality publicly. According to Cook, he decided to publicly acknowledge his sexuality to potentially help other people who identify as gay comes to terms with who they are and to be proud. Apple itself is one of the most profitable corporations in the world. As CEO, Cook earns more than $400 million.
7. Jann Wenner
Jann Wenner is the magazine mogul behind Rolling Stone. He is also the owner of Men’s Journal and US Weekly magazines. His media empires has earned him roughly $700 million in net worth. In 1995, it was announced in The Wall Street Journal that Wenner broke it off with wife and began dating a man, effectively confirming that Wenner is gay. According to reports at the time, Wenner was never happier with the break up. His colleagues who have been close to Wenner throughout his career said they had known since the ’60s he identified as gay.
6. Chris Hughes
Chris Hughes is one of the lesser known co-founders of Facebook. He was the college roommate of Mark Zuckerberg and helped to program and code the site in its earliest form. At that time he acted as Facebook’s spokesperson; however, he refused to relocate to Palo Alto; he graduated from Harvard, and joined the team later with a full-time job. Hughes may now be working as editor-and-chief of the highly-regarded political magazine The New Republic, but he became incredibly wealthy with his early work with Facebook. He is worth over $800 million as of 2013. He and his boyfriend Sean Eldridge married in 2012.
5. Stefano Gabbana
Stefano Gabbana is the co-founder of Dolce&Gabbana with his business partner and ex-romantic partner Domenico Dolce. He met Dolce in 1980 and ever since they have dominated the fashion industry. Before dropping their D&G brand, the company had a revenue of $1.3 billion in 2013. Gabbana himself is worth $1.4 billion.
4. Domenico Dolce
Domenico Dolce is the co-founder of Dolce & Gabbana, one of the most popular and successful fashion companies in the world. They dominate almost every fashion niche from handbags to sunglasses. It may be an unfair stereotype of fashion designers, but Dolce is gay, and hasn’t been one to hide his sexuality and his sexuality has rarely if ever featured as news. Dolce certainly hit headlines hard, however, when he was found guilty of tax evasion in Italy. However, the Dolce&Gabbana brand is worth over $5 billion and Dolce himself is worth about $1.5 billion.
3. Jennifer Prtizker
Jennifer Pritzker, formally James Pritzker, is a member of one of the wealthiest families in the United States. The Prtizker family owns the Hyatt hotel chain that earns billions im annual revenue. Pritzker is also a Colonel in the U.S. Army and a dedicated philanthropist who has donated millions to LGBT charities. In August 2013, Pritzker announced that she would begin gender reassignment procedures and become a women. This made her one of the first openly transgender billionaires and high-ranking military officials in the United States. In total, she is worth nearly $1.5 billion.
2. Jon Stryker
Jon Stryker took over his grandfather’s medical company, Stryker Corp, in the 1980s and made sure it has remained a financial powerhouse. As of today, Stryker Corp earns profits of over $9 billion selling medical equipment and software. Openly gay, Stryker generously provides financial support for gay rights initiatives. His total net worth is more than $1.8 billion.
1. David Geffen
David Geffen is one of the richest and most powerful CEOs in the world. He used a fake UCLA degree to get a mailroom job and has been rising to the top of the corporate ladder ever since. Geffen owns nearly $1 billion of Apple stock, is founder of Asylum and Geffen Records, and part founder of the the DreamWorks movie studio. Geffen is also gay and has been out since at least 2007 when Out Magazine listed him number one of fifty “Most Powerful Gay Men and Women in America.” Geffen’s net worth tops out at almost $7 billion.
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