Luke Prokop Becomes 1st Out Player In National Hockey League

Luke Prokop, prospect for the Nashville Predators, came out as gay becoming the first out active hockey player in the NHL
Luke Prokop, prospect for the Nashville Predators, came out as gay becoming the first out active hockey player in the NHL
Luke Prokop (screen capture via ESPN)

Luke Prokop, a prospect for the Nashville Predators, came out as gay on Monday becoming the first active player under a National Hockey League contract to do so.

“I am no longer scared to hide who I am,” the 19-year-old wrote on Instagram. “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,” Prokop continued. “From a young age I have dreamed of being an NHL player, and 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.”

The six-foot-four defenseman went on to say that while he is “new to the community,” he is “eager to learn about the strong and resilient people who came before me and paved the way so I could be more comfortable today.”

Prior to Prokop, there has never been an NHL player, active or retired, who has publicly come out.

Originally from Alberta, Canada, Prokop played for the Calgary Hitmen of the Western Hockey League last season, acting as an alternate captain.

He was selected by the Predators in the third round of the 2020 NHL draft. In December, he signed a three-year contract with the team.

Prokop told ESPN that personal struggles during his tenure with the Hitmen led him to the realization he needed to come out.

“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,” Prokop said. “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.’”

Prokop shares that the first team exec he spoke to about coming out was Operations/General Manager Brian Poile.

“He, in that moment, showed me a lot of support and told me the Predators are behind me 1,000 percent and want what’s best for me and that they’re proud of me during this,” Prokop told ESPN. “I remember getting off that phone call and tears just started coming from my eyes, I was so excited.”

“And in that moment, I thought, this is what it’s going to feel like for the rest of my life. For them to show that support that they did in that moment, it felt like I can rule the world.”

Prokop’s announcement follows that of Las Vegas Raiders player Carl Nassib, who became the first out active NFL player last month when he shared with the world that he is gay. Prokop told ESPN that, while Nassib’s recent news didn’t prompt his own coming out, he did find the NFL player’s words, and the reaction of the NFL, inspiring.

The Predators’ Twitter account quickly posted messages of support for Prokop as well as the National Hockey League and the official accounts for other teams.

“The Nashville Predators organization is proud of Luke for the courage he is displaying in coming out today,” Henry wrote. “And we will support him unequivocally in the days, weeks, and years to come as he continues to develop as a prospect.”

Henry added that, “A long-stated 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.”

“Our message as a team [is that] we’re obviously very supportive of him,” Predators team captain Roman Josi told “We just reached out and told him [we’ll help with] whatever he needs and that we’re proud of him. It’s a big step for him and we fully support him.”

The Predators Instagram account also shared interview clips of Prokop speaking to SportsNet’s podcast, ’31 Thoughts.’

Brazil: Governor Comes Out In Advance Of Presidential Campaign

Eduardo Leite of Brazil (image via Facebook)

Eduardo Leite, governor of the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil and a 2022 presidential hopeful, has come out as gay.

Leite, who hopes to challenge his country’s virulently anti-LGBTQ leader, President Jair Bolsonaro, in next year’s election, came out during an interview with Brazil’s top broadcaster, TV Globo.

“I’m gay — and I’m a governor who is gay rather than a gay governor,” Leite shared with viewers. “Just as Obama in the United States wasn’t a Black president, but a president who was Black. And I’m proud of this.”

Leite, a member of the center-right Brazilian Social Democratic Party (SDB), went on to say he has nothing to hide and wished that sexual orientation was a “non-issue” in Brazil.

The 36-year-old’s announcement was met with much support from the worlds of Brazilian politics and LGBTQ activism.

The Guardian reports Toni Reis, a longtime advocate of LGBTQ rights in the South American country, wrote on social media, “You’ve made history.”

“I know the pain the prison of the closet represents, particularly in a conservative environment like politics,” tweeted Fabiano Contarato, Brazil’s first openly gay senator elected in 2018. “Everyone must find the right moment for this gesture. Be happy and follow your great work: life will be lighter!”

Leite responded to the public show of support on Twitter writing, “The countless messages of care and support I am receiving make me absolutely safe. Love will conquer hate! Thank you very very much everyone!”

Amid the positive responses, however, were some who noted that Leite eventually came to publicly support Bolsonaro in his 2018 presidential campaign on the eve of the election although he disagreed with Bolsonaro on several policies including the treatment of minorities.

At the time, Leite called his decision a “democratic gesture.”

According to The Guardian, Jean Wyllys, the first out member of Brazil’s congress to fight for LGBT+ rights, noted that Leite has yet to disavow his previous support for Bolsonaro.

“This chap had many opportunities to defend the LGBT community and he didn’t,” said Wyllys. “On the contrary … he was a Bolsonarista until yesterday – and he’s probably still one today, because at no point has he retracted his support for Bolsonaro.”

“So I don’t celebrate this,” added Wyllys. “I’m not part of this team of people who are commemorating this chap coming out of the closet as if it was some great accomplishment for Brazil’s LGBT+ community.”

(source: The Guardian)

News Round-Up: July 2, 2021

Teen Wolf star Tyler Posey
Teen Wolf star Tyler Posey
Tyler Posey (via Instagram)

Some news items you might have missed:

NME: Former Teen Wolf star Tyler Posey says he’s still figuring out his sexuality. “I’ve been with everybody under the sun, and right now I’m in the best relationship that I’ve ever been in with a woman, and she’s queer too. She’s helped me realize that I fit under the queer umbrella and that I’m sexually fluid, I guess.”

them: Around 1,000 people made history this week by taking part in the first-ever Pride event at one of America’s most conservative Mormon colleges. On Monday, current and former students of Brigham Young University (BYU) gathered at Provo, Utah’s Joaquin Park before walking a mile to Kiwanis Park, a grassy expanse just east of campus.

PBS: New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announced Wednesday that Andrew Bruck would be appointed acting attorney general for the remainder of Murphy’s term. Bruck will be the first openly gay attorney general in state history.

Instinct Magazine: Gilead Sciences is looking to get its ‘once every six months’ HIV inhibitor injection, Lenacapavir, approved by the FDA.

The Advocate: Sha’Carri Richardson, who made headlines recently for thanking her girlfriend after qualifying for the Olympics, will now miss at least part of the games due to a positive marijuana test.

News Round-Up: June 22, 2021

Some news items you might have missed:

New York Times: Senate Republicans on Tuesday blocked the most ambitious voting rights legislation to come before Congress in a generation, using the filibuster to deal a blow to a bid by President Biden and Democrats to counter a wave of state-level ballot restrictions. The vote to begin debate on the bill failed with 50 Democratic votes and 50 Republican votes.

Washington Post: The Vatican has taken a highly unusual step against its neighbor, sending a diplomatic note to the Italian government that protests a draft law aimed at preventing hate and violence against LGBT people.

Instagram: When Las Vegas Raiders DE Carl Nassib came out as gay yesterday, he announced he was making a $100K donation to The Trevor Project and challenged others to contribute as well. The NFL says it will match his donation with another $100K to The Trevor Project.

Justice Department: James Dale Reed, age 42, of Frederick, Maryland, pleaded guilty today to threatening then-former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Kamala Harris in October 2020. Reed left a letter on the doorstep of a Maryland resident which also stated, “…if you are a Biden/Harris supporter you will be targeted. We have a list of homes and addresses by your election signs. We are the ones with those scary guns. We are the ones your children have nightmares about…”

The Advocate: The group behind Philadelphia’s LGBTQ+ Pride celebration has disbanded and canceled this year’s festivities due to a controversy. Philly Pride Presents had been criticized for a transphobic Facebook post that cast police as victims in the Stonewall riots.

Out Music: Acclaimed singer-songwriter, producer, and DJ Planningtorock (aka Jam Rahouja Rostron) released their new single, “Gay Dreams Do Come True,” which is also the title track to their upcoming new EP of the same name.

About the euphoric new track, Planningtorock says, “This song is a dedication to my love, my wife Riinu and too the Black trans women who fought for the rights we have today as queer, gay, non binary lesbians.”

Thinking About Our Other NFL ‘First’ Michael Sam

Michael Sam, the first openly gay player to be drafted in the NFL
Michael Sam, the first openly gay player to be drafted in the NFL
Michael Sam, the first out player drafted in the NFL (image via Instagram)

It’s been an exciting, uplifting time in the hours since Carl Nassib, defensive end for the Las Vegas Raiders, came out as gay in an Instagram post on Monday.

In a video message Nassib shared, “I just wanted to take a quick moment to say that I’m gay. I’ve been meaning to do this for a while now but finally feel comfortable enough to get it off my chest.”

The 6’7” five-year veteran of the NFL added that he knows “representation and visibility are so important.” He also announced a $100,000 donation to The Trevor Project.

In less than a day, Nassib’s Instagram account grew from around 27K followers to over 245K followers. Fun fact: the 28-year-old doesn’t follow anyone on the Gram of Insta.

But it’s hard to not think of Michael Sam in this heady time.

Sam, as many remember, famously came out as gay in advance of the 2104 NFL draft.

After a stellar season for the University of Missouri in 2013, he was a first-team All-American and named the Associated Press co-defensive player of the year in the Southeastern Conference. Teammates voted him Missouri’s most valuable player.

At that time, only one player who had earned that honor had been selected outside the top 33 picks at an NFL draft. When Sam came out the New York Times noted that he was “projected to be chosen in the early rounds of the N.F.L.”

But months later, Sam sweated through hours and hours of the draft until finally, in the 7th and final round, the St. Louis Rams made him their next to last pick. Sam was number 249 out of 256 at that NFL draft.

In the end, Sam was cut by the Rams before the regular season. He was picked up for the Dallas Cowboys practice squad but a month later he was released. He never made it to a 53-man roster in the NFL.

Conor Orr, for Sports Illustrated, writes, “Sam, essentially, gave up his dream of playing football to be the league and media’s crash test dummy, as everyone in football’s orbit pinballed through ways to have thoughtful and productive conversations about sexuality and acceptance in the locker room.”

In 2015, Sam was signed by the Montreal Alouettes and on August 7, 2015, he became the first out gay player to play in a CFL regular season game. He announced his retirement from football a week later due to mental health reasons. He currently shares his experiences as a motivational speaker.

Still a class act, early this morning Sam tweeted his congratulations to Nassib.

“Carl Nassib thank you for owning your truth and especially your donation to the @TrevorProject,” wrote Sam. “LBGTQ people are more likely to commit suicide than heterosexuals. I hope and pray people will take note to this. Thank you again Carl and look forward to seeing you play on the field.”

Less than an hour later, Sam followed that with another message – this time to victims of bullying:

“To anyone young or old, black or white, straight or gay are being bullied by others please know this, I stand with you in your time of need and in your hour of triumph, I am your friend and your brother,” tweeted Sam. “Even though I may never see you, hug you, or even kiss you, I love you.”

Some wonder if Nassib might experience some of what Sam saw during his short time in the NFL. But there are big differences between the two scenarios.

One, Nassib is already a veteran NFL player with five seasons under his belt. His team, coaches and front office already know him.

And, last year he signed a three-year $25 million contract with the Las Vegas Raiders. It’s hard to imagine Nassib’s value to the Raiders suddenly taking a dive.

Plus, we’re 7 years past Sam’s NFL experience. In that time, marriage equality has become the law of the land. And while LGBTQ equality isn’t quite there yet, we are making progress forward thanks in great part to that increased visibility Nassib mentioned in his coming out.

Folks in the Twitterverse did take some time to recognize Michael Sam and his journey as “the first.”

Carl Nassib Of The Las Vegas Raiders Comes Out As Gay

Carl Nassib of the Las Vegas Raiders came out as gay on Monday becoming the first active openly gay player in the NFL.
Carl Nassib of the Las Vegas Raiders came out as gay on Monday becoming the first active openly gay player in the NFL.
Carl Nassib of the Las Vegas Raiders (image via Instagram)

Carl Nassib, of the Las Vegas Raiders (my town!!!), has come out as gay becoming the first openly gay active player in the NFL.

“What’s up people,” Nassib wrote on Instagram. “I’m at my house in West Chester Pennsylvania. I just wanted to take a quick moment to say that I’m gay. I’ve been meaning to do this for a while now but finally feel comfortable getting it off my chest. I really have the best life, the best family, friends and job a guy can ask for.”

“I’m a pretty private person so I hope you guys know that I’m not doing this for attention,” he continued. “I just think that representation and visibility are so important.”

“I actually hope that one day, videos like this and the whole coming out process are not necessary, but until then I will do my best and my part to cultivate a culture that’s accepting and compassionate and I’m going to start by donating $100,000 to the Trevor Project. They’re an incredible organization, they’re the number one suicide-prevention service for LGBTQ youth in America and they’re truly doing incredible things. I’m very excited to be a part of it and help in any way that I can and I’m really pumped to see what the future holds.”

Nassib also included this message following his video:

The Raiders and the NFL tweeted their support immediately after Nassib’s message was posted.

Nassib played for Penn State in college. This fall will be his 6th season in the NFL – his second with the Raiders. He previously playing for the Cleveland Browns and Tampa Buccaneers.

According to stats, Nassib has 20.5 career sacks in the NFL.

There has never been an openly gay or bi active player who has played a down in an NFL regular season game.

Michael Sam was drafted in 2014 but never made a roster. In the history of the NFL, there have been 15 players who came out but only after playing.

Colton Haynes & The Photo He Spent Years Trying To ‘Erase’ From Internet

Colton Haynes
Colton Haynes
Colton Haynes (image via Depositphotos)

Actor Colton Haynes (Teen Wolf, Arrow) took to social media Thursday night to share a photo he spent years trying to erase from the internet.

The image was used on the cover of the March 2006 issue of XY, a magazine aimed at young LGBTQ readers.

Haynes shares that he was a teenager and working as a model when the homoerotic photo was taken.

In his Instagram post, Haynes says for many years he was “incredibly ashamed” of the photo and worried that it would affect his career.

The 32-year-old says looking at the photo made him sad as it reminded of him of a time “before I was placed with voice & movement coaches to straighten me up for the cameras…before I learned to see my queerness as a liability.”

Haynes shares candidly he feels “jealous” of the boy he sees in the image: “so open, so free.” And he now realizes he “had to be taught that it wasn’t ok to be who he was.”

“Being gay is worth celebrating,” Haynes adds. “I wish I’d figured that out sooner, but I’m so glad I know it now. To everyone in the LGBTQIA+ community, I hope you celebrate yourselves this month & always, exactly as you are.”

The post has received over 570,000 likes on Instagram with several of Haynes’s famous friends chiming in with their support.

Actress Keke Palmer wrote, “Thank you for sharing your art. How beautiful you were then and now. I thank you for posting this and hate what you went through but so glad it’s made you a vessel to cast out the darkness with truth and light!!”

Michelle Visage (RuPaul’s Drag Race) replied “LOUD AND PROUD BABY”

Charlie Carver (Boys in the Band) sent some heart emoji love and Food Network host Jonathan Bennett responded, “This is so powerful. I feel you Buddy. Love who you were then and love who you are now.”

Fortunately, Haynes is now much more comfortable in his own skin. His Instagram feed shows he recently did a photoshoot for GQ Thailand that looks pretty Pride-ful.

News Round-Up: June 14, 2021

A young man donates blood (image via Depositphotos)

A young man donates blood (image via Depositphotos)

Some news items you might have missed:

The Advocate: Sexually active gay men who have had the same sexual partner for the previous three months will now be able to donate blood, platelets, and plasma in the U.K. after new eligibility criteria go into force on World Blood Donor Day.

OUT: The Ottawa Redblacks of the Canadian Football League suspended defensive lineman Chris Larsen after learning of his potential involvement in a hate crime that left the victim with a broken nose, cheekbone and orbital bone shattered, a splint required for his hip bone and a concussion. American Idol alum David Archuleta has come out as a member of the LGBTQ+ community in a new post on Instagram. “I like to keep to myself but also thought this was important to share because I know so many other people from religious upbringings feel the same way,” the 30-year-old wrote.

Wall Street Journal: A new Covid-19 vaccine from Novavax was found to be 90.4% effective at preventing symptomatic disease in adults in a large clinical trial involving nearly 30,000 participants. Those results could move the shot a step closer to global use.

The Daily Beast: Number crunchers at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) in Seattle studied COVID-19 stats from all over the world, charted the trends and concluded that as many as 9.7 million people could die by late September. If the trend line continues, COVID-19 could kill 20 million by 2023, according to IHME’s model.

Politico: Out Democrat Matt Putorti is launching a campaign against Trump cultist Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), aiming to knock out one of the Republican Party’s rising stars and a newly minted member of House leadership. Putorti is a 37-year-old attorney from Upstate New York focused on LGBTQ+ equality, reducing gun violence, and immigration.

News Round-Up: June 10, 2021

Caden Wyatt with his dad, John, and his mom, Janell (image via John Wyatt)

Some news items you might have missed:

Buzzfeed: Just over a year since he first came out, Caden Wyatt, 15, (above) told the most people he ever has that he’s gay — and he did it with his dad by his side. For the first time in their lives, and likely one of the first times in their Oklahoma neighborhood, the Wyatts hung a flag outside their house to ring in Pride Month.

PEOPLE: Queer Eye star Karamo Brown says filming the current season of the “make better” show in Texas was the ‘first time’ he experienced ‘blatant’ hatred.

Instagram: Cheyenne Jackson is thankful he learned how to get ripped AF with his hotel room workouts. He looked pretty fit before, but I’m not complaining…

Buzzfeed II: Ben Platt (Dear Evan Hansen) explained to Kelly Clarkson why it took him five years to start dating Noah Galvin (The Real O’Neals) and it’s really sweet. “I didn’t see the light for a long time, and then I realized, you know, that he was the guy.”

Instinct Magazine: Caitlyn Jenner compared herself with Donald Trump in an uneasy appearance on The View on Thursday. When pressed by Joy Behar if she was one of those Republicans who believe Trump won the election, she hedged her answer.

“I’m not going to get into that, that election is over with,” but she proceeded to draw a parallel between herself and Trump. “He was a disrupter when he was president. I want to do the same thing.”

Christian Post: Pastor Lewis Clemons of Columbus, Georgia, could have settled a civil case against him for zero dollars if he agreed to acknowledge and record a public apology for allegedly sexually abusing and raping his former congregant, Lequita Jackson. He refused and went to trial. On Wednesday, a jury in the Superior Court of Muscogee County ruled in favor of Jackson and imposed a $500,000 verdict against him.

USA Today: Austin Swink was preparing to go on his first mission trip with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when he decided to reveal the news that he was gay to his dad, Vaughn Swink. “I got this feeling that I just needed to get it off my chest before I left, because it was weighing on me for so long, not saying anything,” Swink said. He decided to video record his coming out to his dad, and posted the reaction online.

Ricky Martin Covers PEOPLE’s Pride Issue ‘I Am A Man With No Secrets’

Ricky Martin gets personal in his PEOPLE Magazine cover story for its annual Pride Issue
Ricky Martin gets personal in his PEOPLE Magazine cover story for its annual Pride Issue
International pop star Ricky Martin (screen capture via People)

When the world watches international pop star Ricky Martin onstage singing and shaking his bon-bon, we see a handsome, confident artist at home in his element.

But in a new cover interview with PEOPLE for their 2nd annual Pride Issue, he shares that he’s actually “really insecure.”

“I’m super socially awkward but today, well the difference is that I know I’m socially awkward,” explains the 49-year-old singer. “So, I don’t go anywhere that causes me anxiety. I’m at peace with performing in front of 30,000 people and feel like the king of the world. But then I walk into a small room at an intimate gathering, and someone will say, ‘Hey Rick, sing a song for us!’ and that creates such anxiety.”

Martin also tells PEOPLE that early in his career he felt pressure prove himself as “a sex symbol.” Before coming out, he was dating women (publicly) and men (privately) trying to decode his own confusion wondering “Am I gay? Am I bisexual? Am I confused?”

One thing he is not confused about is that he was not ‘misleading’ anyone.’

“Sexuality is one complicated thing,” Martin shares with the celebrity magazine. “It’s not black and white. It’s filled with colors. When I was dating women, I was in love with women. It felt right, it felt beautiful.”

At the time, though, the question of his sexuality seemed to hang in the air. Still, Martin intrinsically knew he would come to terms with those questions in his own time.

But there are still moments, before coming out, that haunt him.

Martin recalls a national TV interview with Barbara Walters in 2000 when she asked the question point-blank. “You could stop these rumors,” Walters prodded. “You could say, ‘Yes I am gay or no I’m not.'”

With an almost imperceptible touch of fear in his eyes, Martin found his center and replied, “Barbara, for some reason, I just don’t feel like it.”

Martin says the moment he heard the question, “I felt violated because I was just not ready to come out. I was very afraid.” He adds, “There’s a little PTSD with that.”

Martin eventually came out ten years later in 2010. Looking back now in 2021, with four kids and a husband, Martin says he has considered the question “what would you do differently?”

“Well, maybe I would have come out in that interview,” says the “Livin’ La Vida Loca” singer. “It would’ve been great because when I came out, it just felt amazing. When it comes to my sexuality, when it comes to who I am, I want to talk about what I’m made of, about everything that I am. Because if you hide it, it’s a life-or-death situation.”

“There are many, many kids out there that don’t have someone to look up to,” Martin says. “All they have around them is people telling them, ‘What you’re feeling is evil.’ But, you can’t force someone to come out. But if you have an egg and you open it from the outside, only death comes out. But if the egg opens up from the inside, life comes out.”

For her part, Walters would later admit regret for urging Martin to come out and how the moment was perceived by the public.

“I pushed Ricky Martin very hard to admit if he was gay or not, and the way he refused to do it made everyone decide that he was,” Walters told the Toronto Star in 2010. “A lot of people say that destroyed his career, and when I think back on it now, I feel it was an inappropriate question.”

Read more of Jason Sheeler’s interview over at PEOPLE. Make sure to pick up this year’s Pride Issue on newsstands Friday.

You can listen to Martin’s interview with Jason Sheeler on this podcast episode of People Every Day: