Openly gay pro footballer Josh Cavallo is ‘thrilled’ to join RuPaul’s Drag Race as guest judge

Josh Cavallo has a new gig: judging RuPaul's Drag Race Down Under. (World Of Wonder/Stan)

Australian footballer Josh Cavallo has landed a place in queer history by joining the judging panel on RuPaul’s Drag Race: Down Under season three.

When 23-year-old Cavallo came out as gay back in October 2021, he changed the world of football, becoming the game’s only current top-flight male footballer to be openly queer. It was a seismic moment for the sport, which has a troubling history of deep-rooted homophobia.

Even today, homophobic chanting at football chanting is common at matches, while the sport’s biggest anti-discrimination campaign group Kick It Out recently revealed a record number of reports of discrimination during the 2022/2023 football season.

Less than two years after his coming out, and Cavallo is paving the way once again, making the game more queer friendly day by day. He’s just been announced as a guest judge on RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under season three, becoming the first gay footballer to sit alongside RuPaul on the mammoth drag reality show.

Cavallo will join American pop superstar Adam Lambert, Love Simon actor Keiynan Lonsdale and New Zealand model Rachel Hunter as guest judges on the prestigious panel. Michelle Visage and non-binary Aussie comic Rhys Nicholson will return as permanent judges.

Speaking about his stint as a Drag Race judge, Cavallo shared that he was “thrilled” to be part of a show that “inspires” people in the LGBTQ+ community to be themselves.

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“As the only openly gay male professional footballer currently playing top-flight football in the world, I’m a big fan of embracing your true self, but for many in sport and the queer community this is really difficult to do,” Cavallo explained.

“This is why RuPaul’s Drag Race is so important, because it inspires queer people to be their authentic self, and allows drag to become more accepted and celebrated like it should be.”

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Cavallo’s legendary appearance on the panel has already sent some fans into a state of shock, considering how not too long ago, the worlds of sport and drag certainly did not intersect.

JOSH CAVALLO?!?!” one person screeched via keyboard. “With that being said, can we have more sports icons please!”

“So bloody proud of this young fella,” gushed a second social media user.

“Josh Cavallo guest judging on Drag Race Down Under season three? Oh, we cheered,” wrote a third.

Josh Cavallo on the judging panel of Drag Race Down Under.
Josh Cavallo on the RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under judging panel. (World of Wonder)

Football fields globally are gradually becoming more accepting of the queer community, with English Football League One player Jake Daniels coming out in May 2022 – becoming the UK’s only male professional footballer to be openly gay since Justin Fashanu.

Yet, there remains some contention between the two worlds. Last year, when British football star David Beckham became the face of the World Cup in anti-LGBTQ+ country Qatar, the supposed queer ally saw fierce backlash.

In a hugely successful PR stunt, comedian Joe Lycett threatened to shred £10,000 unless Beckham rescinded his support for the tournament. Drag Race UK queens Black Peppa and Cheddar Gorgeous, meanwhile, scorned him for failing to show whether his “allyship went beyond words into actions”.

Cavallo himself hit out at FIFA after the football association opted to penalise players who wore rainbow OneLove armbands in support of LGBTQ+ people during the World Cup.

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RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under – which has received a mixed response from fans, following a number of controversial contestants being cast previously – returns to BBC iPlayer in the UK and Stan in Australia on 28 July.

The third season stars queens including Ivanna Drink, Rita Menu, Hollywould Star and Flor.

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