Luke Prokop/ instagram Luke Prokop
Luke Prokop has made NHL history.
The Nashville Predators prospect, 19, came out on Monday, sharing publicly that he is gay — making him the first active player under NHL contract to do so.
"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," he wrote in a statement shared on social media. "Today I am proud to publicly tell everyone that I am gay."
"It has been quite the journey to get to this point in my life, but I could not be happier with my decision to come out. 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," he continued.
Prokop, who was selected by the Predators in the 2020 draft, noted that he hoped sharing his story "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," he added. "This is just the beginning of my journey and I am excited to see where it takes me, both in hockey and in life."
Prokop received a full show of support from the Predators as well as his teammates.
"The Nashville Predators organization is so proud of Luke for the courage he is is playing in coming out today and we will support him unequivocally in the days, weeks and years to come as he continues to develop as a prospect," read a statement from president and CEO Sean Henry.
"We're obviously very proud of him for taking that step," team captain Roman Josi told NHL.com. "It's a big step for him, and we fully support him."
"Luke's coming out is another milestone for LGBTQ visibility in sports that is being met with support and affirmation from league officials. By speaking out, Luke has created an inspiring moment for all young hockey fans to see they can be their authentic selves and achieve any dream," GLAAD said in a statement. "This has already been a historic year for out LGBTQ people in sports."
In an interview with ESPN, Prokop said that he decided to come out publicly in April.
"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 said. "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.' "
Recalling a conversation he had with assistant general manager Brian Poile, the first person from the team he talked to, he said, "I remember getting off that phone call and tears just started coming from my eyes, I was so excited."
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Prokop's announcement came almost a month after Carl Nassib became the first active NFL player to come out as gay.
"I just think that representation and visibility are so important," the Las Vegas Raiders player said in his own announcement video. "I actually hope that one day, videos like this and the whole coming out process are just not necessary."
"But until then, you know, I'm going to do my best and do my part to cultivate a culture that's accepting, that's compassionate," Nassib added. "I'm really pumped for what the future holds."