NASHVILLE Predators' star Luke Prokop has become the first player on a NHL contract to come out as gay, telling fans says he's "not scared."
The defenseman, 19, posted to social media on Monday, writing: "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."
He added: "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."
Prokop – who is yet to play for the team – said: "While the past year and a half has been truly crazy, it has also given me the chance to find my true self. I am no longer sacred to hide who I am.
"Today I am proud to publicly tell everyone that I am gay.
"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.
"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."
The Nashville Predators said in a statement it is "proud" of Luke for his "courage in coming out."
They added:"We will support him unequivocally in the days, weeks, and years to come as he continues to develop as a prospect."
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said: "I share his hope that these announcements can become more common in the hockey community.
"LGBTQ, players, coaches and staff can only perform at their absolute best if they live their lives as their true and full selves."
Prokop told The Athletic his teammates had been "really great."
NFL STAR COMES OUT
He said in an interview with ESPN: "“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'."
Las Vegas Raiders' defensive lineman Carl Nassib last month became the first active player in the NFL to be openly gay.
Following his announcement the league declared ''football is gay'' in a promo video shared on Twitter.
"I just want to take a quick moment to say that I'm gay," he announced in a video posted to his Instagram account.
"Sadly, I have agonized over this moment for the last 15 years," he wrote in the same post.
"I stand on the shoulders of giants, incredible people who paved the way for me to have this opportunity," he wrote.
"I do not know all the history behind the courageous LGBTQ community, but I am eager to learn and to help continue to fight for equality and acceptance."
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