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Film and TV

Gay man with cerebral palsy joins The Circle and wants to show he’s ‘fearless’

Lily Wakefield October 8, 2019
Paddy Smyth, a gay man with cerebral palsy

Paddy Smyth, a gay man with cerebral palsy, is one of The Circle's new contestants. (Channel 4)

A gay Irish man with cerebral palsy was announced as one of the latest contestants on The Circle on Friday (October 4) and he wants to show that his disability does not define him.

The Channel 4 reality game show features a group of contestants living in isolation in an apartment complex, who never meet in person.

They only interact through an online messaging system, ‘The Circle’, and can choose to be themselves or make up a new identity.

Each week the contestants rate each other, competing for popularity and £100,000 in cash, and the people with the lowest ratings risk being eliminated.

Paddy Smyth is a disability activist, who has also featured on the Irish version of First Dates, and said he wanted to join The Circle to show that having a disability and a personality are not incompatible.

He is playing as himself, but said that he will reveal his disability to other players in his own time.

Smyth said: “[My strategy is to] go in and put an unassuming picture of just me up without the disability so people get to know who I am hopefully and the banter.

“Hopefully I find people like me for me, and not my crutches. Then with a later picture I’ll show them I’m disabled.

“I’m going to be unapologetically myself. I’m disabled, gay, Irish, slightly ginger… I’m fearless and I’m going to show people just because I’m disabled doesn’t mean that you’re vulnerable.

“I can be a savage bitch just like anyone else. I will use what I need to my advantage.”

He explained that creating an online persona is familiar to him, as he has done it in the past on dating apps, hiding his cerebral palsy.

He said: “To be honest, I’ve done that my whole life. For a long time, I was on Grindr and Tinder hiding away from the fact I was disabled.

“It took me a long time to accept it, so for a long time that’s how I used to get with guys and interact with people, because it gave me a way to escape.

“So, I am very seasoned with knowing what chat to do and how to interact with people through an app because I’ve done it.”

Although he is currently seeing someone new outside of the show, he said he is open to flirting.

Smyth said: “I’m up for flirting 100 percent. Nothing is set in stone, this is a once in a lifetime experience.”

On Sunday’s episode, Smyth had to choose his favourite from pictures submitted by the other contestants under different categories.

On seeing straight contestant Jack’s “sexy” picture, he said: “Oh my god, please, whack me against the bookcase and call me ‘Patricia’.”

If he wins he said he will use the money to help his mum, as his dad recently passed away, but he added:  “I’d bedazzle my crutches and get gold-plated ones… Then I’ll probably squander most of it away and go on a big piss up.”

LGBT+ representation on this season of the show has so far seen Emelle, a lesbian pretending to be straight to be more popular who was later the first to be eliminated, and Woody, son of Zoe Ball and Fatboy Slim, who revealed that he is bisexual. 

More: cerebral palsy, disability, first dates, Paddy Smyth, The circle

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