Words: Jamie Tabberer; pictures: Instagram/@lukeprokop_
Congratulations are in order for ice hockey player Luke Prokop, who has come out publicly as gay.
This makes the Nashville Predators Calgary Hitmen defenceman the first NHL (National Hockey League) player to take the step.
The 19-year-old Canadian - who says it has been "quite the journey" to self-acceptance - announced the news in an emotional Instagram post on Monday (19 July).
"Living my authentic life will allow me to bring my whole self to the rink"
His statement in full reads: "Hi everyone. While the past year and a half has been crazy, it has also given me the chance to find my true self. I am no longer scared to hide who I am. Today I am proud to publicly tell everyone that I am gay.
"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 rink and improve my chances of fulfilling my dreams.
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"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 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. This is just the beginning of my journey and I am excited to see where it takes me, both in hockey and in life. Thank you!"
"It takes a lot of courage to speak up"
Responding to the news, rugby player Devin Ibañez, who is also gay, said: "Congratulations mate! It takes a lot of courage to speak up. I know that there will be so many people who will look up to you and be inspired by this. So happy for you taking this step and excited to see your career blossom."
Canadian movie director Xavier Dolan also reacted, posted a heart emoji on Prokop's Insta post.
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