Credit: EBU / Nathan Reinds

Australia’s representative for Eurovision 2022, Sheldon Riley, sings a beautiful ballad on being different because of his autism.

‘Not the Same’ is a song completely about Riley’s experience with an autism diagnosis as well as coming out as gay at a young age. He says that this song was written as a way of expressing how far he had came.

Whilst ‘Not the Same’ had very minimal staging, it had one distinct feature. That was Riley’s jewelled mask he wore whilst he was singing. In the autistic community, the mask wasn’t just a stylistic feature but a representation of what it is like to be autistic. This represented masking. A feature were a neurodiverse person tries to act or display features similar to that of a neurotypical person.

However, the song’s power really came from the end, when he removed the mask. It felt like a true expression of difference, one that really brought tears to my eyes. As an autistic person, ‘Not the Same’ hit home, as it was a song which I could relate to and beautifully expressed my inner feelings.

Sadly for Riley, Australia placed 15th with 125 points. But I believe, the song had a massive impact, especially being performed on an international stage. It really gave autistic people a newfound voice and something for us all to relate to.

Watch Sheldon Riley perform ‘Not the Same’ in the Grand Final of Eurovision on the Eurovision official YouTube channel.


Keira Edwards

Keira is an A-Level student and aspiring journalist for Radio Gateshead, circus performer and musician.

Interests: Writing, expressing things creatively, and writing podcasts.