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Rich Davenport: Creativity and Performing With ME

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Rich Davenport

Rich Davenport is diagnosed with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME), otherwise known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, a condition causing extreme tiredness and pain.

Rich Davenport has many talents, all of which can be linked to a love of words. As a comedian, this involves finding the right words to make people laugh, while his poetry consists of creating words that stand up on the page but also make great performance poems. While performing in bands, he’s used to writing and singing lyrics. Davenport has made some great achievements, which most people could only imagine, and much of this was following his ME diagnosis.

Looking back, Davenport sees there were signs of his condition back in his late teens and early twenties. Fatigue was the first symptom he noticed, but he was diagnosed much later on. He now lists his regular symptoms as low energy levels, speech problems (slurring, getting words mixed up, stuttering), problems with memory, muscle pain and spasms, intolerance to alcohol, joint pain and stiffness and noise intolerance.

While ME is more widely talked about and accepted these days, Richard faced more challenges when he was originally diagnosed. He compares sharing his condition in 2001 to anyone admitting to having an STD, with the level of stigma revealing it involved. He was told having ME on his medical records would affect his chances of getting life insurance.

Performing with ME

Richard says, I’m thankful to be able to still do as much as I can. I’m classed as having mild ME. I know people with ME who are bed bound and use wheelchairs. Some people have died from it too because in severe cases, it can cause organ failure.”

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He makes the most of his better days by performing his comedy, poetry or music whenever he is physically able to, knowing that on bad days he may struggle with simple tasks such as getting to the bathroom or ensuring he eats enough, which many of us take for granted.

Talking about his gigs, he states, “The fatigue usually kicks in afterwards, so it’s a case of clearing my gear off stage as quickly as possible then finding somewhere to rest as soon as possible.”

Rich Davenport for the MEA

Rich Davenport © ME Association

Award-Winning

The wordsmith remains humble even in success. For example, he won the Best Local Comedy Show at the 2020 Morecambe Fringe. When I asked how it felt to win, he told me, “I was shocked, because I didn’t realise they were giving out prizes! I was also very humbled because there were some amazing shows from very talented performers. It was a huge boost for my confidence after having had to take a break due to the ME and then coming back to it.”

The Progression From Comedian to Writing and Publishing

After sharing a video of himself performing a poem during lockdown. Rich was stunned by the response he received. This spurred him on to follow up on his idea to publish a book. He approached Chinbeard Books, which led to the publication of Gormless, then later followed this up with Horsetrousers. Both books are full of amusing poetic looks at life, whether real or imagined, and are accompanied by illustrations which only add to their comedic nature. He also ventured into fiction in his second collection. Rich felt it was important to donate a percentage of each sale to the ME Association.

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What’s Next?

Richard looks forward to seeing what 2023 has in store for him. He hopes to get more gigs, continue working on a third book and would love to see his work produced as audiobooks. He also hopes to start gigging with his current band, Vicious Bishop, who take their inspiration from The Clash, Stiff Little Fingers and Rancid, among others.

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Bridgerton Season 3: A Milestone in Representation?

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Bridgerton Season 3

The popular Netflix series “Bridgerton” has always been celebrated for its diverse and inclusive storytelling. In its third season, the show has taken a significant step forward in representation by including characters with disabilities and those who are neurodivergent. This move has garnered widespread praise from fans, especially for its nuanced portrayal of these characters. Here’s how “Bridgerton” Season 3 is making waves in disability representation.

Bridgerton Disability Representation Shines in Season 3

“Bridgerton” fans are praising the disability representation in Season 3, which features characters with diverse abilities. Among them, Francesca Bridgerton, played by Hannah Dodd, has captivated audiences with her introverted and musically inclined personality, leading many to believe she is “autistic-coded.” This subtle yet impactful portrayal is a testament to the show’s commitment to inclusivity.

Nuanced Portrayal of Disabled Characters

Season 3 introduces Dolores Stowell, a young debutante who communicates using British Sign Language (BSL), played by Kitty Devlin, and her mother, Lady Stowell, portrayed by Sophie Woolley, who is deaf. This authentic representation of deaf characters using BSL has resonated deeply with viewers. Another notable character is Lord Remington, played by Zak Ford-Williams, who uses a wheelchair. His character’s integration into the social fabric of the Bridgerton world without being marginalized has been particularly praised.

Autistic-Coded Characters in Bridgerton

Fans have also speculated that Francesca Bridgerton and her love interest, John Stirling, exhibit traits often associated with autism. Francesca’s preference for small, intimate gatherings and her deep passion for music have led many to interpret her as autistic-coded. Similarly, John’s interactions and behaviors suggest traits of both autism and ADHD, creating a rich, layered portrayal that viewers have found incredibly relatable.

Fans Praise Bridgerton’s Inclusive Approach

The inclusion of these characters has sparked a positive reaction on social media, with fans expressing their appreciation for the show’s thoughtful and respectful depiction of disabilities and neurodivergence. One fan commented, “Can we just talk about the disability representation in #BridgertonS3 for a minute? Not only is there a deaf actress using BSL to communicate on-screen, but there’s also an eligible suitor in a wheelchair. Not to mention the fact that Fran & John are autistic coded AF.”

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A Step Forward in Media Representation

By featuring characters with disabilities and those who are neurodivergent, “Bridgerton” challenges the misconception that these conditions are modern phenomena. The show highlights that individuals with diverse abilities have always existed and deserve representation in all forms of media, including historical dramas. This representation not only enriches the narrative but also provides a mirror for audiences to see themselves and their experiences reflected on screen.

“Bridgerton” Season 3 has set a new standard for disability representation in media. By thoughtfully including characters with diverse abilities and neurodivergent traits, the show fosters a more inclusive and empathetic view of the world. This approach has resonated deeply with fans, proving that representation matters and can make a significant impact on viewers.

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Drake’s Involvement in Media Maelstrom Involving disabled Journalist Christopher Alvarez

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Drake Alvarez

Journalist Christopher Alvarez has been dragged into a media maelstrom, facing intense online speculation and ugly rumors, including false accusations of a physical altercation with Drake. Although Alvarez uses a wheelchair, he gets around and has enjoyed rubbing shoulders with celebrities and international pop stars, including DJ Khaled, and has aspired to become a broadcast journalist since high school. Alvarez has refuted the false accusations, emphasizing the need to stop spreading misinformation and highlighting the impact of this debacle on both himself and Drake.

One thing that Ebony Prince has been heavily implying is that something happened between Drake, his team and Christopher Alvarez, a journalist who suffers from thanatophoric dysplasia type 2 and requires ventilator support to keep him alive. The accusation that Jimmy Brooks, the disabled character that Drake played on Degrassi, would not be happy with Drake that night, meant to a lot of people that Drake or one of his team mistreated him in some way.

Today, Christopher Alvarez has come out to clear the air. He talks about how we’re in a post-truth era where misinformation and perception rule.  He recently wrote for the Brooklyn Eagle regarding the Drake debacle: “I found myself at the center of a social media storm. As a journalist with a disability, I have faced unique challenges in navigating this ‘post-truth’ society”.

Living as a journalist in a ‘post-truth’ society presents a myriad of obstacles. The constant battle against fake news, the pressure to maintain a strong social media presence, and the risk of becoming a target for cyberbullying are just a few of the challenges that journalists face in today’s digital age.

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For journalists with disabilities, these challenges can be even more daunting. The need to constantly engage with social media platforms can be physically and mentally exhausting, especially for those with mobility or sensory impairments. Additionally, the risk of facing discrimination and ableism in online spaces adds an extra layer of complexity to the already demanding job of a journalist.

Despite these challenges, journalists with disabilities have a unique perspective to offer in the fight against disinformation. Our lived experiences give us a deeper understanding of the importance of accurate and truthful reporting. We have the opportunity to advocate for more inclusive and accessible digital spaces, and to push back against the spread of fake news.

In order to thrive in this ‘post-truth’ society, journalists with disabilities must prioritize self-care and seek out supportive communities. We must also continue to advocate for greater accessibility and inclusivity in digital media, and work towards creating a more truthful and ethical online landscape.

As a journalist with a disability, I am committed to navigating the challenges of living in a ‘post-truth’ society while continuing to uphold the values of honest and accurate reporting. It is my hope that by sharing my experiences, I can inspire others in similar positions to do the same.

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Five Most Celebrated disabled Artists across the World

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Frida Khalo

The world often celebrates success, but true inspiration often lies in overcoming adversity. These five individuals, all prominent figures in their respective fields, have defied limitations imposed by disability, proving that the human spirit can soar regardless of any challenges they confront in life.

Their stories not only amplify the achievements of disabled artists, but also highlight the unique talents of disabled artists and their profound impact across the human race.

Sudha Chandran

Although a devastating car accident at 16 claimed Sudha’s leg, yet she refused to let it define her. With unwavering determination, Sudha relearned to dance, this time with a prosthetic limb. Her portrayal of her own life in the film “Mayuri” earned her national recognition, and her career blossomed. Today, Sudha is a celebrated actress, dancer, and reality TV star, inspiring millions with her grace and perseverance. Her journey, a part of the school curriculum in India, serves as a beacon of hope, not just in her home country, but across the globe, solidifying her place among famous disabled artists worldwide.

Aaron Fotheringham

Forget conventional skate parks. Aaron Fotheringham, better known as “Wheelz,” rewrites the rules on a specially designed wheelchair. Born with Spina Bifida, Aaron never let his disability clip his wings. From a young age, he embraced challenges, mastering walkers and crutches before conquering skate ramps at eight. Fearless and innovative, Aaron became a pioneer in Wheelchair Motocross (WCMX), pushing the boundaries of the sport with groundbreaking tricks like backflips and one-wheeled spins. His dedication has earned him not just recognition, but a place among the most influential figures in extreme sports.

Daniel Radcliffe

While the world met him as the bespectacled wizard, Harry Potter, Daniel Radcliffe’s journey is more complex. Diagnosed with dyspraxia, a learning disability affecting coordination, Daniel faced challenges in everyday tasks. Yet, acting proved to be his saving grace. Encouraged by his mother at the age of nine, he landed the iconic role that propelled him to global stardom.

Despite the demands of fame, Daniel excelled in his studies and transitioned seamlessly into a diverse acting career, tackling challenging roles on stage and screen. Openly discussing his dyspraxia, he raises awareness for neurological conditions and inspires others to embrace their differences. Now a father, Daniel thrives on a new chapter, demonstrating that success extends far beyond the world of make-believe.

Nick Vujicic

Nick Vujicic’s story is one of overcoming seemingly insurmountable odds. Born with tetra-amelia syndrome, an extremely rare condition that results in the absence of limbs, Nick endured a childhood filled with hardship and isolation. However, his spirit remained unbroken. Nick discovered his passion for motivational speaking, sharing his story of resilience and self-acceptance with audiences worldwide. As the founder of “Life Without Limbs,” he empowers people with disabilities and inspires them to lead fulfilling lives.

Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo, the iconic Mexican painter, battled health issues throughout her life. Diagnosed with Polio as a child left her with lasting physical limitations, and a horrific bus accident in her youth caused severe injuries, including a broken spine. It was during her recovery that Frida turned to art, channeling her pain and experiences into self-portraits that became her signature style.

However, Frida’s work explored themes of identity, suffering, and the female experience. Though she died young, her artwork continues to resonate with audiences today, securing her place among celebrated disabled artists. Beyond her artistic genius, Frida’s defiance of societal norms has made her a celebrated figure within the LGBT community.

These five individuals stand as powerful examples of human potential. They have redefined success, proving that disability is not a barrier to achievement. Their stories inspire us to embrace challenges, celebrate differences, and pursue our dreams with unwavering determination.

These inspiring stories highlight the need for greater global recognition of disabled artists, breaking down barriers and ensuring a more inclusive art industry where disability in the art industry is not a hindrance, but a source of immense creative power.


By Yahuza Bawage

Daniel Radcliffe
Daniel Radcliffe
Sudha Chandran
Sudha Chandran
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