The 20-year-old Edmonton defender hopes to play for the NHL in 2022, making him the first openly gay player to do so.
It was a difficult decision to come out of the closet. He didn’t know how he would be accepted by the hockey community. I had some long conversations with family and friends, the people I had previously come out of the closet with. At the end of the day, he wanted to do it. I had to generate this attitude of not giving what is really given. When I hear negative things about myself, I don’t worry so much anymore.
I have yet to earn my place in the team. Me [junior] The teammates are obviously proud of me for coming out of the closet and being the real me, but they are happier that I worked so hard as a hockey player to get to that point. I want to be known for coming to the NHL because of my skills, not just because I’m gay. That may be one of the borders that I have to cross.
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I hope that all sports in general, not just hockey, become a safer place for young athletes. Our generation, I don’t think many of us care about sexuality, race, and gender. We want the best for everyone. We want to see the best hockey players play. If you have the skills and the ability, you should get a chance to play.
This story was told to Michael Fraiman by Luke Prokop, a 20-year-old defender from Edmonton and prospect for the Nashville Predators. He hopes to skate an NHL game in 2022, becoming the first openly gay player to do so.
This article appears in print in the January 2022 issue of Maclean’s magazine with the headline, “Luke Prokop on his effort to reach the top of hockey, on his own terms.” Subscribe to the monthly print magazine here.