An icon on and off the ice. Luke Prokop made history when he became the first National Hockey League player — retired or active — to publicly come out.
“Hi everyone. 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,” the Nashville Predators prospect, 19, wrote via Instagram on Monday, July 19. “Today I am proud to publicly tell everyone that I am gay.”
The sports star went on to talk about how he believes coming out will give him a chance to have the best career possible.
“Living my authentic life will allow me to bring my whole self to the rink and improve my chances of fulfilling my dreams,” he wrote. “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 is truly for everyone.”
While Prokop is certainly a trailblazer on his own accord, he also shouted out those who paved the way for him to live his truth.
“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,” he concluded. “This is just the beginning of my journey and I am excited to see where it takes me, both in hockey and in life.”
After sharing the news, Prokop received plenty of encouragement in his post’s comments section.
“The entire NHL supports you, Luke!” the official NHL Instagram account wrote. “All of Smashville is behind you, Luke!” the Predators’ account added.
Later, the teen told ESPN that he’d come out to his loved ones one month before his public announcement.
“I was lying in bed one night, had just deleted a dating app for the fourth or fifth time, and I was extremely frustrated because I couldn’t be my true authentic self,” he noted. “In that moment I said, ‘Enough is enough. I’m accepting who I am. I want to live the way I want to, and I want to accept myself as a gay man.’”
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