Football star Josh Cavallo pays touching tribute to late gay rugby player Simon Dunn

An image showing cut-out pictures of gay sportsmen Simon Dunn and Josh Cavallo set against a pink background

Professional footballer Josh Cavallo took to Twitter to honour the first openly gay Australian bobsledder Simon Dunn, who sadly was found dead in his apartment in Sydney.

In a tribute to Dunn, who died at the age of 35 on Saturday (January 21), the trailblazing gay football star said he really “struggled” hearing about the tragic news.

He said: “The lives you’ve changed and legacy you leave behind you is endless. Being Australia’s first gay rugby player [sic] there is so much pressure and expectations that you carried and shouldered day in day out. Rip.”

Dunn, whose death is not being treated as suspicious by police, was well-known for taking part in both bobsled and playing rugby, as well as his work for charitable organisations.

As a bobsledder, Dunn performed as the brakeman for Lucas Mata.

After retiring from the sport in 2016, he took up rugby, playing for all-gay team, the Sydney Convicts, as well as the British gay-inclusive team the Kings Cross Steelers while living in London.

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Similar to Dunn, Cavallo made history in October 2021 after he came out as gay in an emotional open letter and heartfelt video posted on social media. Cavallo has used his platform to speak about LGBTQ+ issues globally and in the sporting world. 

Joining Josh Cavallo in tributes included the charity Terrence Higgins Trust, who Dunn freely gave his time too. The organisation said they were “deeply saddened” to learn of his death and were “grateful” for his consistent support.

HIV charity, the Bobby Goldsmith Foundation, for which Simon was an ambassador, described him as a “selfless, compassionate and kind individual who treated everyone equally, stood up for marginalised and vulnerable people and called out injustice.”

The statement continued: “He was a passionate advocate for LGBTQIA+ representation in sport, speaking about his experiences of homophobia in his younger years.

“He was determined to make a positive change in sporting culture throughout the world and his tireless efforts to promote inclusion and equality in sport will continue to inspire future generations.”