15/04/2024

Josh Cavallo became the first ever active male footballer to come out as gay. (Photo: Adelaide United/Twitter)

On the morning of Wednesday October 27, Adelaide United player Joshua Cavallo took to social media to announce that he was coming out as gay.

On the morning of Wednesday, October 27, Adelaide United player Joshua Cavallo took to social media to announce that he was coming out as gay.

https://twitter.com/JoshuaCavallo/status/1453240548404367370?s=20

The announcement was met over the next 24 hours with positive response throughout the footballing world.

This is a historic occasion as it currently makes Josh the only openly gay male professional footballer. There are currently a number of female footballers who are openly gay.

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The language used by Cavallo in the announcement is incredibly important to the impact that this will have not only within football but to members of the LGBTQIA+ community, such as myself.

“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.”

That hits home so hard to so many people in the LGBTQIA+ community because that is a reality that has to be lived with every day. There are so many situations in which we hide our true selves, whether that be work, school, or even at home for a vast number of reasons.

Researcher at Monash University, Erik Denison, had the following to say: 

“Unfortunately, it is very rare for male players to come out to their teammates in both professional and amateur sport. A significant reason why they are hesitant to come out is the constant use of homophobic language in male sport, which makes them feel unsafe and unwelcome.”

Speaking from personal experience, I’ve seen exactly the sort of behaviour that goes on at some football matches, the language that gets used, and the impact that it has.

The way it divides, but also just how people can come together to unite against it. When people come together to unite against it, it is wonderful, and something that needs to happen more.            

Erik also said, “It is very important for professional athletes to come out in their sport and Josh Cavallo should be commended for taking this step and sharing his true, authentic self.”

Josh’s courage to come out in what has traditionally been a sport rife with homophobia and sexism will do wonders for the future and the true impact of this momentous occasion will not come in the hours after the announcement.

It will come in the days, weeks, months, and years to come. It will come in the form of young children who are struggling with their sexuality and/or gender identity. It will come in the form of the players who might feel more accepted seeing all the support and giving them the courage to come out.

It will come in the form of players who cringe whenever they hear homophobic comments but don’t feel comfortable speaking up against it because they are worried they might be ostracised by their team or club, or because it goes against the status quo of what football has been.

This might give them the strength to call it out, and it absolutely needs to be called out going forward, by anyone and everyone who comes across it.

Thank you, Joshua, for feeling comfortable in being your true self. This announcement will have a positive impact and help more people than you will ever know, and that is truly a beautiful thing.

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