Hockey player Luke Prokop had a backup plan to come out

Long before becoming the first gay player under contract with the National Hockey League, Luke Prokop was a closed-minded young Canadian who had created a whole future life for himself in case he was rejected by family, friends and teammates for his homosexuality.

The 19-year-old prospect (who is currently signed as a prospect for the Nashville Predators) opened up about his early struggles with his gender identity and when he dated his sister in the first episode of Break the ice. The five-part digital docuseries from Uninterrupted Canada and EA Sports feature the champions of diversity in Canadian hockey and debuted on YouTube Wednesday.

Prokop said he started questioning his sexuality around the age of 14. Over the next several years, he recalled spending many hours reflecting on his gender identity and the impact being gay could have not only on his dream of playing professional NHL hockey, but also on his personal life. Indeed, it has developed a backup plan in case it is rejected.

“I imagined myself somewhere in the United States and with my partner,” he recalls. “I didn’t play any sport, without my family or friends, which I think was one of my darkest moments that I held onto for a few years.”

Describing himself as “a very open book,” it soon became impossible for Prokop to hide his emotional turmoil. He had always maintained a “very close bond” with his family and had developed a particularly strong relationship with his sister. During a conversation with her amid the isolation induced by the pandemic, he recalled “she could tell something was wrong” with him.

“And then there was a little bit like that, just like an awkward silence and I started to fall apart, I got really emotional and, you know, I finally told her like “Alana, I’m gay. “

He said it was important that his sister was the first person he spoke to, and described how this act made him “more confident” to tell others as well, including his teammates and later the public. in an emotional post on social media.

“Today I am proud to publicly tell everyone that I am gay”, he posted on Twitter and Instagram in July, becoming the first NHL contracted player to do so.

He explained that his phone was illuminated with positive messages less than a minute after his message was posted online. He even got a support call from Sir Elton John.

“We just had a great conversation,” Prokop recalled in July. “He congratulated me, just asked me how the day was, what was the support, then he thanked me for being brave and for coming. It was a really cool conversation.

For now, Prokop is enjoying life and has high hopes for the NHL.

“I think there are a lot of opportunities in hockey right now,” he said on Break the ice. “I mean, it’s only I think it’s a matter of time before someone else comes out as well.”

You can watch the full first episode of Break the ice featuring NHL prospect Luke Prokop below.

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Catherine J. Martinez