The world is a better place because of Luke Prokop.
On Monday morning, the Calgary Hitmen defenceman and a third-round pick of the Nashville Predators in 2020, took a brave step and announced to the world on social media that he is gay.
Prokop’s statement was instantly greeted with a wave of support from around the hockey world. A world, after today, that he just helped make more inclusive.
In an exclusive interview with The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun, Prokop went into detail about his announcement and how his decision to show the world his true self came about.
His “process”, as Prokop calls it, of coming out began in March of 2020 after the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the WHL season, first starting with telling his parents, sister, and older brother, Josh, who served as the Hitmen’s captain last season. From there, Prokop began confiding in close friends as time went on, eventually coming out to his teammates who have, according to him, been extremely supportive.
Following Prokop’s inspirational announcement today, NHL commissioner, Gary Bettman released a statement lauding the 19-year-old for “sharing his truth and for being so brave”.
Along with being a third-round pick of the Predators, Prokop was also a first-round selection of the Hitmen in the 2017 WHL draft, and will be attending his first professional camp as a Predators prospect this season.
There has never been an openly gay player in the NHL before. But with actions such as Prokop’s and the bravery that they display, those which help inch the hockey world towards inclusivity, that seems destined to change — whether that ultimately ends up being him or someone else he’s inspired.
Regardless, the main emotion Prokop described in the aftermath of today’s announcement was the immense relief of no longer having to hide his true self. And thanks to him, many more athletes in the LGBTQ+ community will be able to experience that relief, too.