Gay and disabled - First Dates Paddy Smyth — Scope | Disability forum
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Gay and disabled - First Dates Paddy Smyth

PaddyySmyth Community member Posts: 1 Listener

Paddy Smyth is 30 and from Dublin and you may recognise him from First Dates Ireland or from his brilliant social media campaigns. Today he talks to us about dating as a gay man with Cerebral Palsy.

I kind of fell into being an activist, after appearing on First Dates, the response was overwhelming, I was trending on Twitter! It opened doors for me into using my platform to work with brands, be in the media and to do talks at schools and workplaces about diversity and inclusion. I have always been good at telling a story, it’s a skill I got from my mum and so now I have the opportunity to use that to normalise disability. If I can change one person’s mindset, or show a young person that they can reach for their goals, then that makes it worthwhile.

Dating for everyone can be tough, but as a gay, disabled man I felt that these two parts of me were so separate in the eyes of society. Gay men are seen as highly sexualised, it’s all about image and often disabled people are seen as non sexual beings, someone fragile, someone you need to protect.

Gay dating apps like Grindr are all about the first look, about your physical appearance and I had always struggled to feel attractive, it was hard to get my head around. I put a lot of pressure on myself and had succumbed to the pressure of society to look a certain way. Exploring my character as a gay, disabled man was tough. Then I thought ‘**** it!’ There comes a point where you have to accept the cards that you were dealt with, you can sit and feel sorry for yourself or you can put it all out there!

I decided to go on First Dates after a friend suggested it, I wasn’t sure at first but I am glad I did. I knew I just wanted to show the world that the emotions of going on a first date are the same whether you are able bodied or disabled, we all feel the same nerves! One of the biggest strengths you can have is the ability to be disliked, so I knew that I could deal with whatever the response was, but people loved the show and the feedback I got was phenomenol.

I think there is a societal shift happening right now, a movement towards normalising disability, we are seeing more disabled actors in TV shows and movies, more disabled presenters and shining a light on real disabled people, that we are just like everyone else. To see people like me on the television is a real step forward.

What dating advice would I give to others? We all have our own strengths, play to them, if you are great at art or fashion or numbers, then celebrate that. Stop looking to everyone else and comparing yourself, it only gets you down. Stay in your lane, get your blinkers on and think about what you want, who you are and you’ll find the person who loves you for it.

You can find Paddy on Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram and watch this space as we may be seeing a lot more of him in 2019!


  • Pippa_Alumni
    Pippa_Alumni Scope alumni Posts: 5,793 Disability Gamechanger
  • Antonia_Alumni
    Antonia_Alumni Scope alumni Posts: 1,780 Pioneering
    Hi @Bazalad I thought you might find this post interesting. 
  • Sam_Alumni
    Sam_Alumni Scope alumni Posts: 7,671 Disability Gamechanger
    Thank you so much for sharing @PaddyySmyth - can't wait to see what you are up to next!
    Senior online community officer
  • Sam_Alumni
    Sam_Alumni Scope alumni Posts: 7,671 Disability Gamechanger

    I wondered if you might be interested in this post? :)
    Senior online community officer
  • CaderMac
    CaderMac Community member Posts: 105 Pioneering
    Great advice for dating and for life! The rise and rise of social media makes it very easy to constantly be comparing yourself to others whether that's in your love life, your career or anything else. It's really important to celebrate what you are good at and put yourself first. 

    Thanks Paddy! 
  • Judomandean
    Judomandean Community member Posts: 49 Courageous
    great post Paddy.
  • barry50
    barry50 Community member Posts: 13 Listener
    Just read your story paddy . i use to support a young gentleman he also had cerable palsy we had great times as he was learning i learned alot from him . we still send xmas cards each year . 
    When i read your story i thought good on you with a disability and being gay after all we are all humans not alliens and we all need a life . i also have a disability im gay too . i was not always gay i was in a straight relationship it wasnt until i had a severe blackout come out of it after 4hrs i was confused then found loads of friends that were gay and now im gay and came out to my family and friends no use hiding it as makes you ill so from me to you well done on your story.
  • Roddy
    Roddy Community member Posts: 445 Pioneering
    @ All...
    I find this to be an interesting and fascinating topic for several personal reasons. I have always considered myself to be bi-sexual, which does not mean that I have ever been promiscuous or unfaithful or preferable to either sex. 

    The word 'sex' is often used flippantly as if sex means everything within a relationship, but it is not, and any relationship built purely upon sex is doomed to be disastrous and relatively short-lived in my opinion. True sex or beauty comes from a persons heart, be they man or woman, and there are more important things to build a loving & lasting relationship on, than simply sex with the one that you choose to love. 

    Throughout my adulthood I have had several long-term relationships with both men and women and all of my partners have known about my sexuality, including the mother of my children and my children too. It has never been a problem or an issue because 1. I do not differentiate or prefer one or another. 2. I do not discriminate between either sex or their abilities and/or illnesses. 

  • Judomandean
    Judomandean Community member Posts: 49 Courageous
    A very well written piece Paddy and honest.  Take a bow young man.  Judoman.


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