'All Men Need Brave Leaders Like Josh Cavallo To Inspire Self-Confidence' - Men's Health Magazine Australia

‘All Men Need Brave Leaders Like Josh Cavallo To Inspire Self-Confidence’

Read the full Editor's letter from our August 2022 issue here.

 “I’m gay.” Quite possibly two of the hardest words any person may have to say – to their family, to their friends and colleagues, and even to themselves. And while the world is certainly a kinder place than it has been, living as a member of the LGBT+ community still carries significant risk for many. Simply to exist as an LGBT+ person in 2022 requires strength, bravery and resilience.

Cultural, religious and political beliefs pose often life-threatening dangers to many LGBT+ individuals in countries where homosexuality is outlawed and discrimination is rife. Here in Australia, the situation is better but far from perfect. In 2022, while a pandemic raged, a sitting government chose to prioritise an effort to legalise discrimination against LGBT+ individuals. And we’re still dealing with media outlets trying to ‘out’ celebrities in order to sell papers and chase clicks. It should come as no surprise that, in Australia, 75 per cent of LGBT+ adults have been diagnosed with a mental health condition, or that the same proportion has considered suicide in their lifetime.

So when Josh Cavallo took to Instagram in 2021 identifying as the only openly gay professional footballer in the world, he was also taking one brave step towards equality. 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.

I first said those two words – I’m gay – privately only two years ago, at the age of 32. Lacking (yet inspired by) the courage of men like Cavallo, I have not, until this letter, said them publicly. There are many of my loved ones – family, friends, colleagues – who will be learning this for the first time from this letter, perhaps indicating the difficulties that persist around this subject.

I’m notoriously secretive when it comes to my private life. I’ve built a career reporting on the lives of others rather than acknowledging the realities of my own self. Any questions about my personal life have generally been parried with a cliché: I’m married to my work; I don’t have time to date; I just haven’t met the right girl.

When first tasked with leading Australia’s largest male media brand, I was explicitly told by superiors that I was being appointed on the basis of my resemblance to the classic MH man. Previous managers had vetoed my suggestions of having openly gay men on the cover of this publication because they “wouldn’t resonate” with our readers, never mind that these men were among our most successful sportsmen and exports. And so I remained quiet, personally and professionally.

In much the same way as Cavallo indicated in his viral post, I feared there was no place for a gay man in my line of work, and that publicly acknowledging my sexuality would limit my ability to helm Men’s Health Australia. 

It’s ironic that, as editor of this magazine, I have been too afraid to practise the varieties of acceptance and self-love that are regularly touted by my idols featured within these pages. As a reader of Men’s Health, you most likely have realised much quicker than I did that the happiest and healthiest men in this world are kind to themselves. As Alan Downs famously wrote in his book The Velvet Rage, “The
one and only skill that resolves the crisis of meaning is that of acceptance”.

While this letter is not my personal bildungsroman, and acknowledging my sexuality may yet impact my career and relationships, it would be unreasonable of me to omit this fact about myself while celebrating the positive impact men like Cavallo have had on global culture. Personally, I have drawn inspiration from every single member of the LGBT+ community, both closeted and out. It requires bravery simply to exist in the face of adversity and courage to love when the world tells you not to.

All men need brave leaders like Cavallo to inspire self-confidence and to take a stand against discrimination of all kinds, paving the way to a safer future for all. Because even if you’re terrified, in my personal experience the bravest acts are generally met with even greater responses: “It’s okay”; “You’re loved”; and, “I’m here for you”. 

By Scott Henderson

Scott is the Editor of Men's Health Australia, where he oversees all editorial content of the country's largest men’s magazine. As a fitness addict, adventure sport lover, and passionate story-teller, Henderson is committed to living the Men’s Health brand.

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