I’m a little behind on this news. I worked all day and then climbed into my bed/cocoon of blankets, ready to be swallowed whole by this dark little cloud I had over my head. But there was this one thing that kept me from completely drowning in the puddles and it is this news that I read right when I woke up this morning.
When I say that my eyes popped out of my head when I got the twitter notification, I mean it. Luke Prokop announced to the world that he is gay and proud, becoming the first player under NHL contract to come out. It has been the one thing that has really kept me going all day.
I’ve talked about how important LGBT representation means to me a time or two here on Ham Sports. Now to have a kid who is under contract with the NHL take the very brave step of coming out this publicly, it has made my fuckin year. If you’re straight, you might not understand just how important this is to LGBT people everywhere. You have to understand that we haven’t really had the best representation in media. I remember rarely seeing gay people in mainstream shows I watched growing up and anytime there was an LGBT character they were the butt of the joke or, in a severely high amount of cases, they were killed off pretty early. That’s pretty damaging to a young queer kid because then you think that for the rest of your life, you’re just going to be a joke. I was just left floundering trying to figure out “why am I like this” or “what was wrong with me”. Media has gotten a lot better with LGBT characters which is why I watch every single show that has them because it’s someone who is like me. It’s someone I can relate to and look up to.
And that’s why this is so important for hockey.
We hear the fucking horror stories of the homophobic stuff that happens in the lower levels of hockey. You constantly hear about the things said that forces young LGBT kids to lose love for the sport. I mean, I would have been the same way if I was a young kid hearing all that and then looking up to the NHL and seeing no players who were like me. That sounds terrifying and so so lonely. What Luke Prokop did today, it’s going to give all those people hope for a brighter future. Hope that they can make it to the NHL because hey, if he can, why can’t I? It’s someone for them to look at and say “see, it is okay to be gay”, no matter what people in their life tell them.
I don’t know Luke personally but I can say that I am so fucking proud of him. Coming out is horrifying, I’ve been doing it for years and my throat still closes up when I have to do it. To be just 19-years-old, ready to begin your NHL career, and you get on that podium and say “hey I’m gay and I am proud of who I am. Deal with it.” That takes so much fucking balls, man. Plus there is nothing like getting that weight off your chest. I couldn’t be happier for him.
Like I said, this made my day better and I’m some 21-year-old queer hockey fan from Chicago. I can’t imagine how this must be helping so many young hockey players around the globe. Even the people running the NHL’s socials have been doing a kick ass job responding to homophobes. Below is an interview with Luke I think you should watch too. The article by LeBrun all the way above is fantastic and it’s free to non-subscribers too so give that a read.
There is a long way to go with inclusivity in hockey but today was a great day. It was a step forward and who knows, maybe some other players will find the courage to live free like Luke is. Overall, great day to be a hockey fan.
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