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Brother of gay footballer Josh Cavallo had never seen his ‘big smile’ until historic coming out

·4-min read

Josh Cavallo, the only openly gay top-tier professional footballer in the world, has revealed his brother had never seen him smiling as big before his historic coming.

Speaking to Attitude, as he appears on the cover of the magazine’s latest issue – topping the sport category in the annual Attitude 101 list – Cavallo opened up about how he hid his sexuality from even his closest friends and family.

“I am really close to my brother, Christian. But I did not even tell him about what I was going through,” Cavallo revealed. The Adelaide United footballer revealed his sexuality to the world via an emotional video message on his Twitter earlier this year, which has been viewed more than 11 million times since he posted it.

“When I FaceTimed him – and by that point he knew – he said, ‘Josh, I have never seen you smiling like this before.’ That made me sad to think my brother had only just seen that big smile from me. If I close my eyes now, I can still see his face smiling at me, proud of me.”

Cavallo also spoke about the feeling of relief he experienced after posting the video, confessing: “I felt this instant relief off my shoulders, as though everything in my life felt lighter, like I had instantly shed 30 kilos. I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face.

“This was more than football, it was my personal life, something I achieved. I won the race hitting that post button.”

Josh Cavallo, who recently made headlines after he revealed he would be ‘scared’ to play in Qatar for the World Cup, explained that the decision to come out became obvious due to the stress of living in secrecy, which was impacting everything from his personal relationships to his performance on the field.

“Also, when I was on the pitch, I was thinking about conversations I might need to have afterwards and making up stories on the spot. It is a hard double life to live. As a professional athlete, you cannot have distractions like this.

Australian footballer Josh Cavallo wears sweatshirt and shorts, both by Yniform, socks by Prada, shoes by Converse
Australian footballer Josh Cavallo, who came out publicly as gay in October, appears on the cover of the Attitude 101 issue. (Leon Tran for Attitude)

“I remember a game where I just started thinking, in the middle of it, how I would tell my friends and family about [my sexuality]. I reached a point where I was considering whether my happiness was worth more to me than playing football.

“I did not want to continue living as a straight footballer and I was not enjoying life. I wanted to express who I am. I did not want to continue the act. It is tiring and it is exhausting to perform this act.”

Josh Cavallo had high praise for his club Adelaide United, in particular praising assistant manager Ross Aloisi who he says is like “a father figure” to him.

“I said I wanted to come out. Ross said to me: ‘If that makes you happy, then I am proud of you and I will be with you all the way to support you.’ He said he was sad I had to go through it alone and he just wanted me to be comfortable in my own skin.

“That really touched me and Adelaide United brought that unity. They made me comfortable enough to open up.”

Interestingly, despite the chief executive of the World Cup in Qatar’s recent comments to media dispelling Cavallo’s fears for his safety playing football in the country, the player says he has not heard from anyone at the World Cup or FIFA.

“Unfortunately it has not happened yet. I am looking forward to possibly hearing something about it. It is a huge topic. I stand with my LGBTQ family, particularly in the Middle East or other countries around the world where people have to hide their sexuality or gender identity due to discrimination and human rights violations.”

You can read Josh Cavallo’s full interview with LGBT+ sports writer Adam Crafton in the January 2022 issue of Attitude out now.

The issue also celebrates Lil Nas X as Attitude‘s person of the year, following the star’s unforgettable year of groundbreaking performances and music videos, social media commentary, and the release his record-breaking album MONTERO.

Author of The Transgender Issue Shon Faye, DJs Sherelle and Woody Cook, biologist Dr Jessica Ware, presenter Dean McCullough and anti-conversion therapy campaigner Jayne Ozanne are among the other figures honoured on this year’s Attitude 101 list.

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