Adelaide United’s Josh Cavallo has become the first active men’s player in Australia’s A-League to come out as gay. The 21-year-old is one of very few male footballers around the world to make to make the announcement while still playing.
Cavallo’s decision to come out publicly was centred around encouraging others to be more open and accepting of themselves and their sexuality.
“Today, I’m ready to speak about something personal that I’m finally comfortable to talk about in my life,” Cavallo posted on Twitter. “I am proud to publicly announce that I am gay. It’s been a journey to get to this point in my life, but I couldn’t be happier with my decision to come out. I have been fighting my sexuality for over six years now, and I’m glad I can put that to rest.
“For the people that know me personally, you’ll know I’m a private person. Growing up, I always felt the need to hide myself because I was ashamed. Ashamed I would never be able to do what I loved and be gay. Hiding who I truly am, to pursue a dream I always wished for as a kid, to play football and be treated equally, never felt like a reality.
“Being a gay closeted footballer, I’ve had to learn to mask my feelings in order to fit the mould of a professional footballer. Growing up being gay and playing football were just two worlds that hadn’t crossed paths before. I’ve lived my life assuming that this was a topic never to be spoken about.”
Bringing change to football
A handful of American male players have come out during or after their playing days, including David Testo, Robbie Rogers, Matt Hatzke, Matt Pacifici, and Collin Martin, who currently plays for San Diego Loyal in the second division USL Championship. Former Newcastle Jets attacker Andy Brennan was one of the first Australian footballers to come out when he did so in 2019 while playing in Victoria’s National Premier Leagues.
Well done @JoshuaCavallo 👏🏼. You’ll never know the full extent of your impact by coming out as a footballer but you definitely will have made it easier for young players looking up to you. https://t.co/dhGNxitNDX
— Collin Martin (@martcw12) October 27, 2021
Several of these players have gone public in order to support and encourage other gay players in men’s professional soccer. Cavallo indicated it was his intention as well.
“In football, you only have a small window to achieve greatness, and coming out publicly may have a negative impact on a career,” he said. “As a gay footballer, I know there are other players living in silence. I want to help change this, to show that everyone is welcome in the game of football, and deserves the right to be their authentic self.
“I hope that in sharing who I am, I can show others who identify as LGBTQ+ that they are welcome in the football community … As the game of football keeps expanding, I want to help evolve the game even further, and let other players in my situation feel that they’re not alone.”
Football community shows support
Cavallo has quickly received support on social media for coming out, including from Barcelona’s Gerard Pique and Manchester United’s Raphael Varane:
Hey @JoshuaCavallo, I don’t have the pleasure to know you personally but I want to thank you for this step that you take. The world of football is far behind and you are helping us move forward. https://t.co/pe8xdJl15i
— Gerard Piqué (@3gerardpique) October 27, 2021
Liverpool shared a club message and FC Barcelona tweeted a ‘thank you’ to Cavallo: “Your courage contributes to normalizing diversity in the sports world.”
Australia women’s national team star Sam Kerr also tweeted her support of his decision and Sydney FC veteran Alex Wilkinson praised Cavallo’s bravery in stepping forward.
“It’s fantastic that Josh has found our sport and his club to be a safe place to share his sexuality,” Wilkinson said via a PFA statement.
“Despite progress made in sport and society, it takes a huge amount of courage to come out.”