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Ekblad shows continuing support for LGBTQ community

Panthers defenseman remains vocal leader in fight for equality in sports @NHLdotcom

Aaron Ekblad plays for the Florida Panthers, but he is becoming perhaps the NHL's most visible member of team equality.

The defenseman, who recently starred in a Nike "Be True" ad, which championed equality for all athletes regardless of sexual orientation, told Boca Raton Magazine that he sees the changing landscape in sports in regards to treatment of LGBTQ athletes.

"Do I think it's getting better? I think so. People are getting more educated and more understanding," Ekblad told "I would like to think the climate is getting better."

The 2014-15 Calder Memorial Trophy winner has not been shy about his feelings of equality and neither has the NHL. The league put forth an initiative called "Hockey is for Everyone" which uses the game to drive positive social change and foster more inclusive communities. Every February the league celebrates "Hockey Is For Everyone" month.

Ekblad is certainly doing his part and then some. He said he had hoped that in the present climate, a gay athlete would no longer be scared to come out to the public if they so desired.

"Don't be afraid. You'll be surprised by how many people are accepting," Ekblad said in the interview.

Ekblad also cited the simplest of reasons for participating in the viral Nike commercial, along with WNBA star Brittany Griner, skateboarding stars Brian Anderson and Lacey Baker, all of whom are open about their sexual orientation.

"I hope it helps a little bit," Ekblad said. "I'm just trying to do my part on helping people become more accepting."

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