By Dirk Smith, M.Sc, SDL (He/Him)

Sharing a video on social media and with help from his team, Adelaide United. Midfielder, Josh Cavallo described how he was “tired of living a double life” and that he is gay. Currently, he is the only openly gay male professional soccer player in the world and has declared that by coming out, he doesn’t want others to experience the stress and anguish of being a closet gay athlete like he experienced.

“I’m trying of trying to perform at the best of your ability and to lead this double life,” Cavallo said in the video. “It’s exhausting. It’s something I don’t want anyone to experience.”

“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,” he shares. “That’s not the case. If anything, you’ll earn more respect from people.

“The response and support I’ve received, it’s immense. It’s starting to make the think, why have I been hiding this burden for so long.”

Cavallo has received nothing but love and support from his teammates, coaches and other members of his community. Including Adelaide United Head Coach, Carl Veart.

“Josh is a tremendous young man and has shown incredible courage to be one of very few professional sportsmen to be this brave,” Veart said. “I’m very proud of him. I have nothing but admiration and support for him, as do all the players and coaching staff.”

As part of his journey, Cavallo struck up a friendship with fellow openly gay (now retired) footballer, Thomas Beattie. No doubt the journey has been stressful for Cavallo, so having someone who could help guide him was important.

“First and foremost, I wanted to be there for him and just tell him that I understood some of the emotions he was going through,” said Beattie. “I advised him not to rush, to be patient and to take it at his own pace.

“I also told him that everyone’s journey is different, that his journey is not going to be the same as mine. But I also wanted to reassure him that he would be OK and the moment he decides to embrace and accept himself, there’s going to be a huge community of people that will accept him with open arms.”

While the world of sports has certainly changed from Beattie’s coming out to Cavallo’s, each athlete who shares such an important part of their identity helps to pave the road for the athlete’s that follow. If the support Cavallo has received is any indicator, he has a bright future as a professional athlete living as his authentic self.

Photo by Dailyausfootball via Wikimedia Commons