Hockey player Luke Prokop has become the first active NHL player to come out as gay.
In a statement posted to social media, the 19-year-old Nashville Predators prospect said: “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.
Prokop said he had been on “quite the journey”, but that he could “not be happier” to be coming out.
He continued: “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.”
The hockey player thanked his friends, family and agents, who he said had met him “with love and support every step of the way”.
He said that he hoped by coming out, he could “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“, and added: “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.”
Luke Prokop cried ‘tears of joy’ when he received support from the Nashville Predators
In an interview with The Athletic, Luke Prokop described the moment he knew that his team, the Nashville Predators, would support him.
He was driving when he got the call from the team’s management, including general manager David Poile, who told him they were proud of him and would support him coming out.
Prokop said: “When I think about the feeling of being free, that was the closest I think I’ve been to it so far.
“I turned up the music as loud as I could. I was wearing sunglasses, I started to cry, tears of joy, I didn’t want anyone to see me crying while I was driving.
“But I was blasting the tunes and slamming on my steering wheel. It was amazing.”
Poile told the publication: “[He’s a] very brave young man.
“It took a lot of courage. I’m proud that he did that. It’s got to be exciting for him to be taking this step.
“This is a big story and hopefully it helps and encourages others in similar situations. It’s a big deal.”