Soccer

“I’m a footballer, and I’m gay” -Josh Cavallo

In 2021, Josh Cavallo is currently the only male top-flight professional soccer player to have come out as gay, and it was a "journey to get to this point."

Josh Cavallo, Australian professional soccer player for Adelaide United, came out to the world as gay. Shockingly, he is the only male top-flight professional soccer player to have done so in history. It is one thing to not discuss sexuality at all, but another to hide it in shame and carry it as a burden.

“All I want to do is play football and be treated equally.”

Why there are so few openly gay male athletes

In 2021, there have been progressive advancements in the way human sexuality is treated throughout the world. Cavallo’s announcement proves both that there is still work to be done and how far we’ve come. Cavallo says that he knows there are other players “living in silence”. Even in professional soccer, there are only a few openly gay soccer players, some of whom waited to come out until they were retired, proving that society may be changing, but there is still work to be done in the sports world. In 2013, Robbie Rogers made history when he played as the first openly gay player in U.S. professional soccer. In the top-flight, Cavallo stands alone.

The downside to this is that there are likely still several people who feel as Cavallo did, scared and ashamed and keeping the two worlds separate. “Being a gay closeted footballer, I’ve had to learn to mask my feelings to fit the mood of a professional footballer. Growing up being gay and playing football were just two worlds that hadn’t crossed paths before.” It’s a long way to go before coming out at all is a thing of the past, but there are positives to this story, too.

The upside is that after coming out, Cavallo has received praise and positivity, rather than the negative pushback he thought he’d receive. “I thought that people would think of me differently when they found out, they would start treating me differently, they would start saying bad things about me or making fun of me, but that’s not the case. If anything, you will earn more respect from people.”

This goes to show that the mindset in general has changed and is changing still, from considering differences in sexuality a negative thing to accepting and welcoming differences, but recognizing that it’s still a difficult thing to live with, especially in the sports world, and even more so in the male sports world. The masculine culture at the center of male sports can often be less welcoming to gay athletes.

“The response and support I have received is immense. It’s starting to make me think that why have I been hiding this burden for so long?”

It’s certainly a step in the right direction to have less and less gay male athletes hiding their sexuality. The culture of male sports is still overwhelmingly masculine and can make it difficult to feel comfortable speaking openly about gay sexuality. Cavallo hopes to help change 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. It is astonishing to know that there are currently no gay professional footballers who are out and actively playing, not only in Australia, but around the world. Hopefully this will change in the near future.”