Australian football player Josh Cavallo has come out as gay and said “he couldn’t be happier with his decision” to talk about this part of his life.
The Adelaide United player made the announcement on Wednesday in a statement and has become the first openly gay male athlete in the A-league competition in Australia.
“I am proud to publicly announce that I am gay,” Cavallo said in the statement and declared that he wanted to create a safe space for other players to come forward.
“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,” Cavallo said.
“I have been fighting my sexuality for over six years now, and I’m glad I can put that to rest.”
Cavallo said while growing up he always felt the need to hide himself because he 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,” he said.
“Being a gay closeted footballer, I’ve had to learn to mask my feelings in order to fit the mould of a professional footballer,” he said. “I’ve lived my life assuming that this was a topic never to be spoken about.”
Cavallo said his move to come out could have a negative impact on his career, but he expressed his willingness to change the reality of other football players silently going through this.
“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,” Cavallo said.
Calling the lack of queer representation astonishing, he said there were “currently no gay professional footballers who are out and actively playing, not only in Australia, but around the world.”
This is something he hopes will change in the near future.
“I hope that in sharing who I am, I can show others who identify as LGBTQ+ that they are welcome in the football community,” he said.
Several social media users welcomed the footballer’s decision and had congratulatory messages for him.
Jamie “Jamodo” O’Doherty, a FIFA e-sports player, said it was “amazing to see the courage and bravery of Australian Footballer Josh Cavallo openly coming out as gay today.”
Stuart Edser, a psychologist and author of Being Gay Being Christian, also left a comment for the football player. “Well done Josh. You are already a legend for the courage you are showing in your disclosure. It will help others come forward and be their true selves too.”
“Any young person who is struggling with their identity, or feeling excluded or judged, can look today to Josh Cavallo,” said Australian senator Perry Wong.
The globally celebrated sport, mostly dominated by non-queer community players for decades now, is currently witnessing a change in representation around the world.
Collin Martin from San Diego Loyal, a second-tier football team of the US, and Phuti Lekoloane, an LGBT+ activist who plays for Tornado FC and is South Africa’s first openly gay footballer, are some of the active and publicly known gay males in the community.