Fans supporting Lewis Capaldi at Glastonbury is an amazing way to help someone with Tourette's

We shouldn't colour his experience with negativity or suggest his condition is hidden by telling him to not perform.
Fans Supporting Lewis Capaldi At Glastonbury Is An Amazing Way To Help Someone With Tourette's
Kate Green

Lewis Capaldi fans showed their love for the singer in the best way when he had trouble singing during his Glastonbury set on Saturday.

When he had to take a moment due to problems with his voice and the fact he was experiencing tics from his widely-publicised Tourette's condition, the crowd quickly jumped in and sung the words to his mega track Someone You Love, as his band played.

Lewis was able to walk around the stage, take in the undoubtedly amazing atmosphere and sing along when he could.

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"Glastonbury, I'm really sorry," he said during the set. “I'm a bit annoyed with myself.” But he also added as he exited the stage "I genuinely dreamt of doing this. If I never get to do it again, this has been enough." As fans, we owe performers that experience of feeling proud of their achievements, and not lessening them or viewing them differently if they are facing illness or disability.

The singer recently opened up about his experiences with Tourette's – in particular, in his Netflix documentary How I'm Feeling Now. He explained that his experiences of making music and becoming famous seem linked to changes in his mental health and triggering of his Tourette's tics.

“As I got bigger with my music, my anxiety would get worse, and I noticed when I was getting anxiety I was twitching; my neck goes to the left and my shoulder goes up,” he said.

Guardian columnist Frances Ryan – who is a wheelchair user and has generalised muscle weakness – has spoken out on Twitter about the significance of this fan reaction at Glastonbury, and the importance of not framing his experience on stage as “heartbreaking” or that he “shouldn't have gone on”. Rather, it was important to fill in when Lewis needed help, not colour his experience with negativity or suggest his condition is hidden by telling him to not perform.

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“Disability is not a bad thing to be hidden," she wrote in her thread. "It exists alongside success and joy.”

Frances also stressed the vital importance of disability visibility, and the positive impact of seeing disabled bodies on stage and the importance of normalising such conditions.

“The issue isn’t his disability but that the media hasn’t normalised seeing disability symptoms in high profile jobs,” she wrote. “Imagine if we saw disabled bodies on stage every week.”

The fan support when it came to Lewis Capaldi's difficulties on Saturday shows that how we react to situations like this matters, and is something that we should be considering with every encounter with any individual's disability. To show compassion and support.

“Their instinct was empathy and support, not cruelty or pity,” Frances wrote. “This is not the reaction many disabled people get day-to-day! The public are more than capable of embracing disability.”

What we saw on a large scale at Glastonbury Festival during Lewis' set is arguably something we can all practice in our day to day lives, as part of a mission to normalise disability and show compassion, instead of shame or ignorance, towards such conditions.

Lewis added that he will be taking a break from performing, and we hope he will be taking care of himself in that time: “I feel like I'll be taking another wee break over the next couple of weeks. So you probably won't see much of me for the rest of the year, maybe even,” he said while on stage.

"But when I do come back and when I do see you, I hope you're still up for watching us."

Rest up, Lewis. We hope to see you soon.