OPINION: Homophobia still exists in local sport and needs to be called out

Luke McPhersonSouth Western Times
Rising A-League star Josh Cavallo came out as gay last October.
Camera IconRising A-League star Josh Cavallo came out as gay last October. Credit: Sarah Reed/Getty Images

In October last year, I was scrolling through the news when I read rising A-League star Josh Cavallo had come out as gay — the first professional male footballer worldwide to do so.

The first thing which popped into my mind was “it is about time”.

But immediately after I thought about things I had heard in our own part of the world, and how hard it would be to be gay.

As recently as in the last fortnight, I was at a South West Football League match and heard someone say something homophobic.

I turned to look at the person, to see who would say something so ugly in today’s world.

I realised I was the only one looking at the culprit, and I felt like the only person who cared or was angered about what was said.

I have been in change rooms, on sidelines and on the field when people have made homophobic comments and shared backward views, which are rarely — if ever, in some cases — called out.

Sadly, there are still people in the South West that have these archaic views that people in the LGBTQI+ community are somehow different, or lesser, than those that aren’t.

But of course, that is ridiculous.

Who you love has nothing to do with how good you are at taking a mark, kicking a goal or laying a tackle.

I worry that for every piece of vitriol that is said, there is a boy, girl, man or woman, who gets further from coming out.

Josh Cavallo himself said he had struggled to reconcile his sexuality with being a professional sportsman.

“Being a gay closeted footballer, I’ve had to learn to mask my feelings in order to fit the mould of a professional footballer,” Cavallo said in a tweet.

So my challenge is this, to our leaders and local sports people across the region, next time you hear something homophobic said, call it out.

You have no idea what impact it could have.

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