After that nation voted for the first ever disabled winner of Britain Got’s Talent, John Williams (team leader of Enable) reflects on what this means for the disabled community and whether you have to joke about your disability in order for people to accept you.
As I watched Britain’s Got Talent 2018 throughout the auditions, semi-finals and the final I was bored. It seemed to me that it was just the same old similar kind of acts trying to win.
Then enter Robert White and Lee Ridley – they both grabbed my attention!
Robert, who lives with Asperger’s and Lee, who lives with cerebral palsy both stepped up to the plate and delivered something different. They both engaged not just with the audience and the judges but with the whole nation. Never before had a comedian won the show yet here they both were with comedy acts in the final two. Robert was tipped to win but it was Lee who was hailed as the winner.
Lee used his life experience and wicked sense of humour to open the eyes of a nation and get people thinking. People who have a seen or unseen disability are more than just their disability!
The question is, do you have to joke about your disability to let people accept you?
Lee, growing up with cerebral palsy, used humour as his act to break down the stigma of disability. I noticed that at first the awkward silence of the audience, but by the end he had them on their feet in a standing ovation. From his act to the t-shirts he wore, I could see he was trying to approach the subject that ‘it’s okay to laugh with a disabled person’ – what a breath of fresh air!
As a Christian, husband, father and leader of a project, I too use my humour to put people at ease around me, not to compensate for anything but just because it’s who I am. From my perspective, me accepting my disability as something which is a part of me but not letting it define me as a person, allows me to speak on other topics and issues. I genuinely think Lee has sparked something here which we can’t ignore…
Ultimately people like myself and others with disabilities need to be role models and in doing so we can show other disabled people that God loves them for who they are and that their talents and giftings need to be shared with others. Whether you have one, two or three talents, don’t bury it underground. Instead, like Lee, show the world that it’s richer for having you in it!
Enable Team Leader