Josh Cavallo recorded the statement he was too worried about to talk about publicly for a very long time.
“There is something personal that I have to share with everyone: I am a footballer and I am gay,” Cavallo said in a video posted on Wednesday by Adelaide United, his A-League club.
Cavallo, 21, said he was the first player to come out while playing in Australia’s top-flight men’s football competition. It’s a rarity across the world in men’s sport, something Cavallo wants to change.
The video, which the club released with the message ‘The Truth About Josh’, made headlines in Australia and his own message and the club’s version were widely shared.
Cavallo said growing up he felt the need to hide. No more.
“I was ashamed that I could never do what I love and be gay,” he said. “All I want is to play football and be treated the same. I’m tired of trying to give your best and living this double life. It’s exhausting. C It’s something I don’t want anyone to experience.”
A talented player who represented Australia at junior level, Cavallo thought people would think of him differently and treat him differently if he told them he was gay.
“But it’s not,” he said. “If anything, you gain more respect from people. Hanging out with my relatives, my peers, my friends, my teammates, my coaches has been amazing.
“The response and support I’ve received has been overwhelming – it’s starting to make me think, ‘Why did I hide this burden for so long?'”
Monash University researcher Erik Denison, who has conducted international research on athletes entering the sport, said he hopes Cavallo’s public announcement will be a catalyst in the sport.
“Unfortunately, it is very rare for male players to come out to their teammates in professional and amateur sport,” Denison said, noting that Cavallo is only the fourth Australian to come out as a male player. high-level sport. “I am pleased to see that Football Australia has publicly supported Cavallo, but he must now fulfill the public pledges he made in 2014 to ‘eradicate’ homophobia from sport with meaningful action.”
The A-League season is set to start on November 19, with Cavallo’s Adelaide United opener against Perth Glory the following day.
Cavallo chose to make a statement ahead of the season in a bid to ‘inspire and show people that it’s okay to be yourself and play football’.
In an interview with Australian TV channel 10, Cavallo said it was on a night for celebrations at the end of last season, when he received an award, that prompted him to go public. .
“There was a lot of positivity in my life. But when I got home, I just felt numb. I had no emotions,” he said. “My life was great, but it wasn’t a life where I had to be myself.
“Instead of celebrating, I sat up in bed crying that night. Constantly having to lie to the people I cared about was not how I wanted to live the rest of my life. My double life started to break down. had a huge influence on my mental health. Even though the football was amazing, I still wasn’t happy.
After a lot of thought and some inspiration from the stories of other former players, he is fine now.
“I want to show all the other people who are struggling and scared, whoever they are, don’t act like someone else,” he said in the video. “You were meant to be yourself, not someone else.”
Cavallo received support at home and abroad, with most praising his honesty and bravery.
Among them was France international Antoine Griezmann, who shared Cavallo’s post with the message ‘proud of you’ and Barcelona star Gerard Pique, who responded to the Cavallo news in a message to his more than 20 million Twitter followers.
“Hey @JoshuaCavallo, I don’t have the pleasure of knowing you personally but I want to thank you for this step you are taking,” he wrote. “The world of football is far behind and you are helping us to move forward.”
To amplify his message, Cavallo concluded his video, recorded in the safe setting of his Adelaide home, with his no-nonsense statement: “I’m Josh Cavallo, I’m a footballer and I’m proud to be gay.”
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