"Today I am proud to publicly tell everyone that I am gay," wrote Luke Prokop, 19-year-old defenceman from Edmonton, in a message posted on Instagram this morning. 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. 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 ring and improve my chances of fulfilling my dreams."

"I wouldn't be able to do this without my amazing family, friends, and agents - who have known this about me and met me with love and support every step of the way. 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 truly is for everyone."

Luke Prokop signing with the Nashville Predators. Photo via Luke Prokop's Instagram

"I may be new to the community, but I am eager to learn about the strong and resilient people who came before me and pave the way so I could be more comfortable today. This is just the beginning of my journey and I am excited to see where it takes me, both in hockey and in life."

Luke Prokop receives support from NHL

Luke Prokop has received messages of support from many in the hockey community since his coming out announcement this morning. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman released a statement on behalf of the league that read in part: "we are proud of Luke Prokop for today's announcement and I would like to thank him for sharing his truth and for being so brave. 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 full and true selves. We do not take the meaning and importance of this announcement lightly. We pledge to do everything possible to ensure that Luke's experience is a welcoming and affirmative one and continue to work to ensure that any current or future NHL Player contemplating following in his trailblazing footsteps knows our League is ready to provide full support."

The Nashville Predators also shared messages of support from Sean Henry, Nashville Predators' President/CEO, and David Poile, President of Hockey Operations/GM. Henry stated, "A long-standing 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 Nashville Predators have been vocal supporters of the Nashville LGBTQ community, hosting Pride nights and participating in other community events.

Luke Prokop's original post has received many comments of support, including from hockey players around the world and Hockey Canada.

This article has been republished from Out & About Nashville, and was part of a series of first-person pieces written by the late Bobbi Williams.

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