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Hockey star Luke Prokop received major love from the sports community when he came out

This profile is part of Queerty’s 2021 Out For Good series, recognizing public figures who’ve had the courage to come out and make a difference in the past year, in celebration of National Coming Out Day on October 11.

Name: Luke Prokop, 19

Bio: Luke Prokop is an Alberta, Canada-based hockey player. He was drafted by the Nashville Predators in the 2020 draft, where he received a three-year entry-level contract for the team.

Coming Out: Prokop became the first NHL player, active or retired, to come out when he announced he was gay in a July 2021 Instagram post.

“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,” Prokop wrote in the post. “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,” Prokop continued. “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.”

Prokop told ESPN he decided to come out after experiencing mounting frustration on dating apps.

On making the decision to come out, Prokop said, “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. 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.'”

He also believed coming out would “help ease his mind and allow him to play his best hockey,” according to the sports pub.

Chosen Family: Prokop began coming out to his friends, family, and teammates in April 2021. He specifically recalled to ESPN the moment he told Predators assistant general manager, Brian Poile, who was beyond supportive.

“He in that moment showed me a lot of support and told me the Predators are behind me 1,000% and want what’s best for me and that they’re proud of me during this,” Prokop told ESPN. “I remember getting off that phone call and tears just started coming from my eyes, I was so excited. And in that moment, I thought, this is what it’s going to feel like for the rest of my life. For them to show that support that they did in that moment, it felt like I can rule the world.”

In addition to his team, Prokop also received kind words from Predators president and CEO, Sean Henry.

“The Nashville Predators organization is proud of Luke for the courage he is displaying 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,” Henry said in a statement. “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.”

In a world where many athletes fear judgment, losing contracts, or having no support, it’s incredible to see the world of sports rally behind Prokop! We wish him nothing but happiness as he continues to live as his authentic self… and you know, less frustration on those pesky dating apps.