OCCUPATION: Sales account manager
RELATIONSHIP STATUS: Seeing someone new
PLAYING AS: Himself
IN A NUTSHELL: Paddy is hoping to bring Irish charm to The Circle. He has cerebral palsy in his legs due to his mum having cancer in the womb when she was pregnant. Doctors thought he was going to be brain dead and wouldn’t be able to walk or talk. Paddy is seeing someone new but says if there are fit guys on The Circle, he’ll definitely flirt with them.
MOTIVATION FOR ENTERING THE CIRCLE: Paddy admits that he has been able to use his disability to his advantage. When he was younger people would say ‘poor you, you’re disabled’ and he realised you can influence people because of it. He would make people carry things for him, skip queues in clubs and people would instantly warm to him. Paddy thinks that being gay and disabled is quite difficult, as on the gay scene there’s a lot of pressure to be conventionally good looking. He wants to join The Circle to show that having a disability doesn’t mean you don’t have a personality.
STRATEGY: Paddy might open his profile with a picture of just his face so the other players don’t instantly know about his cerebral palsy. He plans to later use pictures of him on his crutches so he can talk about his disability and hopefully win support from the other players.
Are you open to flirting on The Circle?
I'm up for flirting 100 per cent. Nothing is set in stone, this is a once in a lifetime experience.
What is it about playing The Circle that appeals to you?
It's a very good representation of the day and age that we live in. I will be using my disability to my advantage but I can decide when to use it. Normally in the world you see my vulnerability and my disability straight off, but here I'll have the power to decide when I want to show it. I won't reveal it straight away. I'll use it as my ace card.
What is your disability?
I have cerebral palsy in my legs.
How does that affect you in day to day life?
I walk with crutches, I call them my glam sticks. I'm going to get pink ones. It affects the way I walk. My nerve endings from my head to my legs are slightly off and it makes me walk funny.
Talk me through your profile on The Circle?
I'm going to be unapologetically myself. I'm disabled, gay, Irish, slightly ginger. My name is Paddy and it would actually be rude for you to block me. 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. And I want to show people that just because you're disabled doesn't mean you can't play the game better or even as well as anyone else.
What is your strategy to win?
First off, 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. And then hopefully, show I'm fearless and that I've got awareness. Hopefully that will help me get to the final.
How did you decide what pictures to use?
I do an Instagram anyway so I just decided on unassuming and inviting pictures that you wouldn't make a judgement on straight away would be safe. But I don't want to play a safe game so I do have one of me in an apron with the willy out.
How easy to you think it's going to be winning people over with just words and pictures?
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.
How did you find the courage to start admitting online that you were disabled from the beginning?
It was social media. I started getting a following online. I know the negative effect it can have on people but it really had a positive effect on me and made me find my confidence. People were writing to me, saying, 'I have a kid disabled, if they're anything like you, I'd be happy.' That really built my confidence, and really helped me understand I need to accept every part of me and trust my instincts wholeheartedly to really go far.
What social media platforms do you use at home?
I dabble in Twitter but Instagram I love.
Do you have a favourite social media star?
I do, myself. No, I'm joking. Yes, her name is Claire Balding.
Have you ever been in contact with a celebrity on social media?
I was contacted by Samantha Mumba. We were at an event together and she started following me and then DM’d me.
Have you ever had a bad experience on social media?
Some people have told me I'm not really disabled and that I take advantage of it. I'm like, why shouldn't I then? People use their looks to become models.
Have you ever been catfished?
I haven't actually, but in some ways I can understand catfish. I understand what it means to want to be someone else.
When you were hiding your disability, how long would you hide it for?
It depends, it would be very situational to the chap and when I would feel comfortable? It depends on the person, if I feel they are going to accept it, and on my own state of mind. Because no one understand what it's like to have something that makes you different. People's perceptions change. It doesn't even have to be something they say, it can just be a vibe you get.
Do you think you'll be able to spot catfish in The Circle?
I fecking hope so! I'm also excited to hopefully get catfished. It's the name of the game. And if they can do that, then fair play to them. I'm in it to play the game. All is fair in love and war in The Circle.
Is there anything that really bugs you about social media?
Perfection! I hate perfect profiles, that don't show the real rawness of everyday life.
Were you popular at school?
I was actually. I was the class clown. I got bullied a bit when I came out at secondary but that was down to people being ignorant and uneducated and not knowing gay men. They thought that because I was gay, I fancied every boy in the school. I got my own back, because I kissed one of the bullies in the toilet.
How far will you go to win?
I'd go pretty far. I won't lie about who I am, but I will tell white lies. I wouldn't do a big lie!
What would you do with the prize money?
I'd bedazzle my crutches and get gold-plated ones and then I'd give some money to my mum to make sure she's alright. My dad recently passed away so I want to make sure she's OK. Then I'll probably squander most of it away and go on a big piss up. Most people probably wouldn't say that, but I will.