Australian footballer Josh Cavallo, Adelaide United midfielder, turned out to be gay on social media early Wednesday to become the only top male soccer player to come out publicly.
“I’m a footballer and I’m gay,” the 21-year-old said in a moving video on Twitter read her coming-out story. “I’ve been struggling with my sexuality for six years now and I’m glad I could put that aside. Growing up, I always felt the need to hide because I was ashamed. I was ashamed that I never could. doing what I loved and being gay. Being a closed gay footballer, I had to learn to hide my feelings in order to fit into the mold of a professional footballer. … Growing up being gay and playing football football were just two worlds that had never crossed before. “
“All I want is to play football and be treated equally.”
Cavallo’s international coming out follows a wave in American sport over the past four months that has seen three publicly gay athletes in the top four professional sports – Carl Nassib (NFL), Luc Prokop (NHL minors) and Bryan ruby (pro baseball miners).
Cavallo’s team, Adelaide United are in Australia’s top soccer league, A-League Men. The league tweeted his support for Cavallo and another Australian football player Andy Brennan.
Collin Martin, now San Diego Loyal midfielder, came out gay in 2018 as a member of Minnesota United FC. At the time, Martin was the only male professional athlete to come out. Robbie Rogers, who played for the LA Galaxy and the US National Team, became the first openly gay professional football player in 2013 before retiring definitively in 2017.
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“I know there are other players who live in silence,” Cavallo wrote on Twitter. “I want to help change that, to show that everyone… deserves the right to be themselves authentic.… It’s amazing to know that there are currently no professional gay footballers who are actively playing, not just in Australia, but around the world. “I hope that will change in the near future. I want … to let other players in my situation feel that they are not alone.”
Adelaide United coach Carl Veart said in a press release that Cavallo has “shown incredible courage to be one of the few professional sportsmen to be so brave. I have nothing but admiration and support for him, like all the players and the technical staff”.
“I want all of my players to feel comfortable and happy to be their own person, on and off the park. In order for Josh to be the best he can be and get the most of his career, he needs the freedom to be himself and I fully support it. “
A recent study by the University of Winchester, the Sports Equality Foundation and Outdoor sports found that over 95% of openly gay athletes (high school to college) see their teammates respond positively or neutrally once they step out. But professional men’s sports – where athletes are available to be giant role models – are much more dated, which means Cavallo’s coming out may help spark widespread change.
Prokop said USA TODAY this month: “I believe professional sports are becoming more and more player-focused leagues. This will override any (homophobia) that may exist. … I hope there will be a trickle down effect towards the older generation. “