The gravity of Josh Cavallo's announcement became clearer with every passing second, while the weight he had held onto for six years relented.
"I'm a footballer and I'm gay."
In six words, Adelaide United's Cavallo had broken through one of Australian male's sports longest enduring hurdles. The Reds midfielder became, on some accounts, the first professional men's footballer to come out as gay and in the days that followed October 27, he drew the eyes of the world.
"I have been fighting with my sexuality for six years now, and I'm glad I can put that to rest," he said.
"It's been a journey to get to this point in my life, but I couldn't be happier with my decision to come out."
The announcement for Cavallo, but also men's sport, had been a long-time coming.
Usually in the quiet time of the off-season or sometimes during pride month, pundits regularly posed the question in men's sport .
"What would happen if someone came out as gay?"
For all the trouble that it caused, 2021 gave us the answer.
Men's sport has existed for so long without this element of visibility. Not that it never existed, even simple deduction points to the fact the LGBT+ community probably did exist within the sporting landscape before last year.
2021 was, as American sportswriters like to say, a statement year. Luke Prokop became the first openly gay player in the NHL in America, while Carl Nassib became his equivalent in the NFL as an active part of the Las Vegas Raiders. The rarity of such announcements in men's sport was highlighted when the pair captured the newscycle for several days afterwards.
"It has been quite the journey to get to this point in my life but I could not be happier with my decision to come out," Prokop said.
The AFLW has continued to highlight its own trailblazing culture with two players announcing they were non-binary. Tori Groves-Little became the first openly non-binary player in the AFLW and was closely followed by Darcy Vescio, of Carlton.
Groves-Little said: "To be the first in the AFLW environment is daunting and scary, but I'm comfortable in myself now and in my body, so if you're confident it's not as nerve-racking.
"I know you're going to get some backlash, but you deal with anything. It doesn't really faze me to be honest, which is good."
From Bachelorette contestants to musicians to fellow players and coaches, the pair were embraced for their bravery to track new ground for the LGBT+ community. It may seem small, but you can not be something you never see and 2021 pointed towards an industry which has finally created a space for the LGBT+ community.
Outsports estimates about 40 lesbian and bisexual participants competed at the 2019 women's world cup compared to zero men at the 2018 men's tournament. That perhaps goes some way to explaining why such fanfare greeted Cavallo compared to similar announcements in women's sport.
The 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo featured 172 athletes who identify as LGBT+ according to the same outlet.
While 2021 cleared some long-standing hurdles, there are other frontiers for footballers and athletes, and society more broadly, to face in the coming year.
We finally have an answer to that ever-enduring hypothetical: It looks like Cavallo, Vescio and Groves-Little. It equally looks like Prokop (NHL) and Nassib (NFL) and the others that came before or will come after them.
While 2021 was the year of the athlete, presumably the spotlight will turn to the organisations and how their governance facilitates more people to identify as they choose. The largest question on the horizon looms centres on FIFA with the World Cup in Qatar - a country in which homosexual acts are imprisonable offences.
In response to Cavallo's coming out, chief executive of the 2022 FIFA World Cup organising committee Nasser Al Khater moved to dismantle the notion a gay player would be unwelcome at the event.
Qatar promises that LGBT+ fans will able to feel safe in the country and pride flags could be flown in the stadium.
"I've said this before and I say this to you again, everybody is welcome here. Everybody is welcome here and everybody will feel safe here. Qatar is a tolerant country. It's a welcoming country. It's a hospitable country," he said to CNN.
England FA chief executive Mark Bullingham has received assurances from Qatar that LGBT+ fans will be safe.
"We have asked the question as to whether all of our fans will be able to come, particularly those from LGBTQ community," he said in October.
"We received the unequivocal answer that absolutely everybody is welcome to come to Qatar."
It's a sentiment that fails to stick the landing given the offences someone can receive for being homosexual still exist.
In Al Khater's own words, "homosexuality is not authorised" in the host country.
Continual complaints regarding Qatar's workers rights eventually saw new legislation implemented by the country including heat protocols and minimum wage, but LGBT+ rights are yet to see the same shift.
Advocates, like Chris Paouros, have labelled Qatar's pride flag announcement as window dressing to a far larger problem.
Sporting organisations, like FIFA, are willing to share in the positive press as an inclusive game when players come out, but also bestow privileges to countries which deny those rights.
There is a sense from other footballing bodies that the Qatar World Cup needs to make a step in this direction.
"The joint committees [between workers and employers] would be great. But it would be even more great if we made a first step on equality between men and women and also on the LGBT discussions," the general secretary of the Dutch Football Association Gijs de Jong said to The Guardian.
Sport had asked itself who would be brave enough to step forward and break the mould. While 2021 gave us that answer, 2022 should be about ensuring organisations can uphold those values.
That should start by asking a serious question about FIFA's insistence that the World Cup travel to Qatar.
Why does the sport's governing body insist on holding a celebration of soccer in a place which does not celebrate the values FIFA purports to hold dear?
Perhaps, British Olympic medallist Tom Daley was most poignant about the impending clash of ideals and money in Qatar.
"Hosting a World Cup is an honour. Why are we honouring them?"
What do you think? Send us a letter to the editor: