Out Soccer Star Josh Cavallo: 'I Was Not Enjoying Life' in the Closet

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Saturday December 4, 2021
Originally published on December 3, 2021

Josh Cavallo
Josh Cavallo  (Source:Josh Cavallo/Instagram)

Out soccer star Josh Cavallo opened up about how miserable he was before he came out of the closet and became the world's only openly gay active top-flight soccer player, UK newspaper the Daily Mail reported.

"I did not want to continue living as a straight footballer, and I was not enjoying life," Cavallo, 22, told LGTBQ+ magazine Attitude, the current issue of which he covers. "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."

Not only was it exhausting to keep the lid tightly clamped down on his truth but also, Cavallo noted, it was an unwelcome distraction for the pro athlete. Cavallo recalled that even during matches the painful secret would intrude into his thoughts.

"I remember a game where I just started thinking, in the middle of it, 'How I would tell my friends and family?'" that he was gay, Cavallo recounted. "I reached a point where I was considering whether my happiness was worth more to me than playing football."

"It is a hard double life to live," the young Australian said. "As a professional athlete, you cannot have distractions like this."

There was also a cost to his personal life, Cavallo noted. "I didn't want to lie to my friends and loved ones," the soccer pro reflected. "I wouldn't want them doing that to me, so why would I do it to them?"

Not everyone is supportive, though, and in some of the world's nations, just being a part of the LGBTQ+ community is a crime that carries steep penalties. One of those nations is Qatar, which is slated to host next year's World Cup.

UK newspaper The Guardian reported on how the prospect of playing in an anti-LGBTQ+ nation was frightening to the young player.

As previously reported at EDGE, only weeks after coming out Cavallo told The Guardian's podcast, "I read something along the lines of that [they] give the death penalty for gay people in Qatar, so it's something I'm very scared [of] and wouldn't really want to go to Qatar for that."

Cavallo's remarks prompted Nasser Al Khater, the head of the event's organizing committee, to respond, EDGE reported in a previous article.

"We welcome him here in the state of Qatar," Nasser Al Khater told CNN. Al Khater downplayed the country's hostile laws, framing the issue as one of "modesty."

"Qatar and the region are a lot more modest, and Qatar and the region are a lot more conservative," the official said, before going on to add: "We respect different cultures, and we expect other cultures to respect ours."

Qatar does not recognize same-sex marriage or other measures of equality for sexual minorities, and even "campaigning for LGBTQI+ rights in the country is outlawed," The Guardian noted.

"A 'danger index' compiled in 2019 to guide LGBT travelers rated Qatar as the second most dangerous place to travel for queer people," the Guardian said.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.