Josh Cavallo is the first out gay, active player in men’s professional football.
In a conversation with Star Observer, the Adelaide United football player spoke about Queer representation in sport, handling the haters, and what sport he thinks he’s “better at” than soccer.
‘Adelaide United Football Club Was My Lifeline’
Three years ago, Cavallo, 23, moved to Adelaide to restart his career.
“I found myself quite homeless,” he said. “I moved to Adelaide to restart my professional career because things weren’t going so well in the soccer world for me.
“Adelaide United Football Club was my lifeline. They told me to come down for a trial. I came down – I had about $33 in my bank account, I was living in my car for eight days, I was homeless, and I had nothing in life.”
After that trial, Cavallo signed a two-year deal with Adelaide United Football Club, and his life changed.
On October 27, 2021, Cavallo came out in a video posted to socials.
“There’s something personal that I need to share with everyone. I’m a footballer and I’m gay,” Cavallo said in the video.
Speaking about that moment he came out to his team, Cavallo told Star Observer, “When I did come out to my team, there was no big deal. It was perfectly fine. The best thing about coming out to my teammates was, two minutes later, we were talking about football again.”
Growing Up, He Looked Up To The Women’s Teams
Growing up in Victoria, Cavallo did not have any Queer role models in men’s professional football to look up to, so he looked up to the women’s teams.
“With the girls, I saw that no one gives a second look. I’ve seen that for many years, and I’m like, why can’t we do that in the men’s game?”
As for the reason Cavallo came out publicly when he did.
“There wasn’t anyone that paved that way [for him], in being a leader and being an LGBTQI member in the world of football,” he said. “So, taking that first step of coming out and making that video and being who I am, I did it for a reason.
“I didn’t do it just for myself, but for the millions and millions of people around the world, that play football, and find themselves in the LGBTQI space.”
‘An Army Of Family I’ve Got Behind Me’
Being the first out football player, Cavallo attracts a lot of attention, both positive and negative.
“There is a lot of hate in this world, he explained. “In a lot of countries around the world, being LGBTQI is still criminalized, and in those countries, football is massive. So on social media, I do get a lot of hate in that aspect.”
His tone got joyful and he added, “But kids that come up to me, and people that reach out to me online. How many people rally behind me, it’s like an army of family I’ve got behind me, so you can send all the hate you want my way, I ain’t changing what I’m doing.”
‘Be Comfortable In Your Own Skin’
Cavallo knows how difficult it is to deal with that hate sometimes. He shared advice for handling that hate and living as your authentic self.
He stressed, “Be comfortable in your own skin. There’s gonna be people that say everything about you, from the way you look, the way you talk, the way you walk, the way you dress– don’t ever let that change you. It’s you who has to be happy at the end of the day, and you have to be comfortable in your own skin, and don’t ever let anyone change that.”
Now, what would Cavallo be doing if he was not playing football?
“I would probably be a tennis player,” he said with a laugh.
“I am a tennis fanatic. My first sport growing up was tennis and I only played soccer because my brother played it, and I got jealous of him.
“So I picked up a soccer ball, but I love tennis – fun fact.”
He added, “I’m better at Tennis than I am at Soccer.”
Cavallo is set to appear as a guest judge in an upcoming episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under Season Three.