Jul 19, 2021 - Sports

Luke Prokop becomes first player on NHL contract to come out as gay

Photo of Luke Prokop in hockey gear crouching down on ice in a match

Photo: Derek Leung via Getty Images

Nashville Predators prospect Luke Prokop made history as the first active NHL player to come out as gay on Monday.

What he's saying: "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," the 19-year-old Prokop wrote on Instagram.

  • "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."
  • "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."

Why it matters: No NHL player, active or retired, has ever come out, according to ESPN.

Prokop, a defenseman from Edmonton, Alberta, told ESPN he struggled last season as a closeted player.

  • "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," Prokop 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.'"

The big picture: His announcement follows similar moves by the NFL's Carl Nassib and U.S. National Women's Soccer League player Kumi Yokoyama earlier this year.

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