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In 2021, Josh Cavallo altered the global football landscape forever with six powerful words: “I’m a footballer and I’m gay.”
It was a sentence 21 years in the making that was finally shared by the pro footballer in an emotional social media video captioned “My truth.”
For two decades, the Adelaide United midfielder had kept his identity a secret, but a chance move to South Australia opened the doors to a revelation that would ultimately help the 22-year-old find his true self.
“South Australia has been very special to me personally, because it’s where I found my wings,” he said.
“It’s where I found my wings in life.”
Recruited from Melbourne A-League team Western United to Adelaide United in 2021, Josh arrived in South Australia with dreams of becoming the world’s best footballer and the weight of hiding his true self from everyone around him.
It didn’t take long for Josh to get settled in his new city — a place he credits for giving him a confidence and a clarity he had never known.
“It only took me about eight months to realise that this is the place that I want to show the world who I am,” Josh said.
“I am completely honoured that I could write my story in South Australia and that’s a credit to [the state] and Adelaide United as a football club.”
Josh’s social media post spread fast, and beforelong, those six small words had made waves (and headlines) around the world.
“It’s just really touching…I still get quite emotional because I didn’t realise how many people were moved by [the video] and how many people [it] did help,” Josh said.
Adelaide United were right behind him, sharing the video to its own social media channels, followed by Manchester United and FIFA as well as entertainment icon Ellen Degeneres and singer Sam Smith — just to name a few.
Josh had come out and the world had leaned in, making it clear he had nothing but support and love.
“I thought that [the news] was going to be big in Australia. But…I [practically] got a hug from the whole world,” Josh said.
Melbourne-born, Josh said there was something special about Adelaide and South Australia that gave him the strength to live his true life.
“It’s something that I’m going to be remembered for, for the rest of my life and I’m honoured to have done this in this [city] … there’s a reason why I have done it here instead of Melbourne,”
“I felt more comfortable and it’s more of a home for me.”
Josh’s story is one of accelerated stardom and courage.
He kicked his first soccer ball at age 11. By just 16, he had landed his first professional contract. Just five years later — now living and working in Adelaide — he harnessed his biggest secret and used it to change the footballing world for good.
Soon after coming out, Josh graced the covers of Men’s Health and GQ as well as featuring in shoots for fashion icon Ralph Lauren.
He also featured on the cover of the August 2022 issue of Men’s Health, where Editor Scott Henderson, himself, came out in his Editor’s Letter.
“Josh – and others like him, from other fields – are paving the way for a generation of LGBT+ youth, saving lives in the process and creating a safer space for those struggling with their sexuality. Myself included,” Scott penned to the magazine’s half-a-million monthly readers.
But, despite all of this, Josh remains, at his heart, a humble family man who just wants to master his skills and share positivity to the world.
“I always stay grounded and work hard,” Josh said.
“I know I have to work hard to be where I am today and continue (to work hard) if I want to be one of the best players in the world — which is my dream.”
And as for South Australia?
“It’s my new home now,” Josh said.