Luke Prokop has carved his name into the history books as on Monday, July 20, he became the first ice hockey player with an NHL contract to come out as gay. The defenceman who is currently signed with the Nashville Predators took to Instagram to post a moving statement confirming the news.
Prokop opened the post by saying, “While the past year and a half has been crazy, it has also given me the chance to find my true self. I am no longer scared to hide who I am.”
“Today I am proud to publicly tell everyone that I am gay,” he continues.
The 19 year-old is currently an NHL prospect who was selected 73rd overall by Nashville in the 2020 Draft, and added that “from a young age I have dreamed of being an NHL player, and I believe that living my authentic life will allow me to bring my whole self to the rink and improve my chances of fulfilling my dreams.”
After thanking his family, friends, and agents, Luke Prokop closed the post by saying, “I hope that in sharing who I am I can help other people see that gay people are welcome in the hockey community, as we work to make sure that hockey truly is for everyone.”
“I may be new to the community, but I am eager to learn about the strong and resilient people who came before me and paved the way so I could be more comfortable today. This is just the beginning of my journey and I am excited to see where it takes me, both in hockey and in life.”
The Nashville Predators wasted no time in expressing their support for the up-and-coming athlete, posting messages of support on Instagram, accompanied by the caption, “All of SMASHVILLE is behind you Luke”.
President and CEO, Sean Henry, stated “we will support him unequivocally in the days, weeks, and years to come as he continues to develop as a prospect.
“A long-stated goal in our organization is equality for all, including the LGBTQ community, and it is important that Luke feels comfortable and part of an inclusive environment as he moves forward in his career.”
The historic moment comes less than a month after Las Vegas Raiders star Carl Nassib became the first active NFL player to come out as gay. The courage shown by the pair will undoubtedly lead others to follow in their footsteps as the sporting world moves closer towards being an inclusive and accepting space for the LGBTQ+ community.
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