Adelaide United midfielder Josh Cavallo revealed on Wednesday that he is gay and became the first openly gay footballer to come out while still playing in Australia’s A-League. “I’m a footballer and I’m gay,” the 21-year-old declared on social media, sparking supportive comments from his team, the A-League and Football Australia. Cavallo, who has already represented Australia at u.20 level, said he no longer wanted to keep his sexuality a secret.
“All I want to do is play football and be treated equally,” he said.
“Trying to perform to the best of your ability and lead this double life, it’s exhausting, it’s something I do not want anyone to experience.”
– Josh Cavallo (@JoshuaCavallo) 27 October 2021
Despite football’s tremendous popularity worldwide, only a few soccer players came out as gay, mostly after they retired to avoid the prospect of homophobic defiance of the terraces.
The first professional player to come out while still playing was Britain’s Justin Fashanu in 1990, but he never found acceptance in the game and hung himself in 1998.
A charity founded by Fashanu’s family last year has released a letter from an unnamed gay player in the English Premier League highlighting how little football culture has changed.
The player said his situation was “an absolute nightmare”, adding: “I feel trapped and my fear is that revealing the truth about who I am will only make things worse.”
Cavallo said Fashanu’s case bothered him as he considered coming out.
“I remember reading that Justin Fashanu became the first male professional footballer to come out, in the 1990s, and then took his own life eight years later – it did worry me,” he said.
But Cavallo described the support of the club, teammates and officials as “huge” and said he wanted to be a positive role model for gay footballers.
“It’s okay to be gay and play football – I want to show all the other people who are struggling and scared,” he said.
Erik Denison, a researcher at Monash University, praised Cavallo and said his outcome was an important moment that could become a catalyst for eradicating homophobia in Australian sport.
“Unfortunately, it is very rare for male players to reach out to their teammates in both professional and amateur sports,” said Denison.
“A significant reason why they are reluctant to come out is the constant use of homophobic language in men’s sports, which makes them feel unsafe and unwelcome.”
(This story was not edited by NDTV staff and is automatically generated from a syndicated stream.)
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