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5 things you should know about becoming the first NHL openly gay player

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5 things you should know about becoming the first NHL openly gay player

An icon on and next to the ice. Lukas Prokop made history when he became the first National Hockey League player – retired or active – to come out in public.

“Hello everyone. While the last year and a half has been insane, it has also given me the chance to find the real me. I’m no longer afraid to hide who I am,” wrote the 19-year-old Nashville Predators prospectus on Monday, July 19th, via Instagram. “Today I am proud to be able to publicly say to everyone that I am gay.”

The sports star went on to talk about how he believes coming out will give him the chance for the best career possible.

“Living my authentic life will allow me to put my whole self on the rink and improve my chances of fulfilling my dreams,” he wrote. “I hope I can help other people show that gays are welcome in the hockey community by showing who I am, because we are working to make hockey really suitable for everyone.”

While Prokop is certainly a trailblazer of his own accord, he has also yelled at those who paved the way for him to live his truth.

“I may be new to the community, but I am eager to learn more about the strong and resilient people who came before me and paved the way for me to be more comfortable today,” he concluded. “This is just the beginning of my journey and I’m excited to see where it takes me, both in hockey and in life.”

After sharing the news, Prokop received a lot of encouragement in the comment section of his post.

“The entire NHL supports you, Luke!” Wrote the official NHL Instagram account. “All of Smashville is behind you, Luke!” Added the Predators account.

The teenager later told ESPN that he had come to see loved ones a month before his public announcement.

“I was lying in bed one night, had just deleted a dating app for the fourth or fifth time, and was extremely frustrated because I couldn’t be the real me,” he noted. “At that moment I said, ‘Enough is enough. I accept who I am. I want to live the way I want, and I want to accept myself as a gay man. ‘”

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