Nashville Predators prospect Luke Prokop announced on Monday that he’s gay, making history as the first player under an NHL contract to publicly come out.
Prokop was chosen by the Predators in the third round of the 2020 NHL draft. He landed a three-year entry-level contract with Nashville in December. Before the 19-year-old defenceman’s announcement, no NHL player, active or retired, had come out as gay.
In an open letter posted on social media, the Edmonton native wrote, “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. I am proud to publicly tell everyone that I am gay.”
“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.
The player thanked his family in the Instagram post for meeting him with “love and support every step of the way.”
Prokop informed the Predators organization of his sexual orientation last month and told ESPN that NHL commissioner Gary Bettman called him to tell him to reach out anytime.
“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,” team president and CEO Sean Henry said in a statement released by the team. “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.”
The NHL tweeted a statement from Commissioner Gary Bettman. Bettman said that he is proud of Prokop’s announcement and thanked him for sharing his truth and being brave.
Prokop’s announcement comes on the heels of Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib coming out, becoming the first openly gay player in the NFL.