Footballer Josh Cavallo opens up about dealing with death threats since coming out

Cavallo talked to GOAL about his experience with coming out, being a role model for LGBTQ+ youth and dealing with hate and death threats.

Close up of football player Josh Cavallo on the field
Image: Via Instagram @joshua.cavallo

Despite all the trolls spewing slurs and death threats, footballer Josh Cavallo told GOAL, “To this day, I have no regrets” about the moment he pushed ‘publish’ on the social media post in which he came out as gay.

As the only currently active male player in a top-level league, Cavallo gained lots of attention on October 27, 2021, when he came out to the world, thrusting himself into the spotlight and becoming one of the most famous footballers today.

“20 minutes before I pressed the post button, I was in the changing room with all my teammates and coaches. I was very nervous, my heart was beating so quickly when I announced it,” he said in the interview with GOAL.

“What amazed me the most was that, 30 seconds after I made that announcement, me and the boys went straight back to talking about football and everything was normal again. That was exactly what I wanted, just to be accepted for who I was and not be treated any differently.”

He added that, “The last six months or so have gone by so quickly, but now it’s important that I can focus on being Josh Cavallo the footballer. That’s how I want to be known, not as Josh Cavallo the gay footballer. Being gay is just one part of my life, it was my talent that got me where I am.”

On the subject of becoming an LGBTQ+ icon for queer youth, Cavallo said, “Growing up I didn’t have someone I could look up to, or find any acceptance anywhere to say it was okay to be gay and play football.”

“We don’t know if the next big talent has been turned away from the game because they don’t fit in,” he continued, “I wish that in my youth football days, I had something like that.”

Amid all the love and support Cavallo received from his family, friends, team, fans and loved ones, there have also been hate-fuelled chants at games and death threats online, following his coming out.

“At the time, I was disappointed,” the Adelaide United player said, referring to an incident in January during a match against Melbourne Victory, “but now I see this as a learning moment for everyone to grow. As a professional athlete, no matter what sport you’re in, it does affect you, it does get to you and it isn’t a nice feeling.

“But I want to create awareness and show that it isn’t OK to do that, no matter where you come from or what your beliefs are,” continued the 22 year-old. “We have children at these games, we have families, so we want to make it a respectable environment for everyone. In sport, if you make mistakes on the field as an individual, if you miss a goal or a tackle or a cross, you will get negative comments on social media. I treat it no differently to that.”

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