Brighton: Gay vegetarian raises awareness of CJD following diagnosis

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A gay drag queen performer and former barman, who has been diagnosed with Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, the human form of Mad Cow Disease, is hosting a charity event in Brighton this weekend in order to raise awareness of CJD.

Ritchii Kara, 28, gave up meat five years ago but doctors believe the illness – which can lie dormant for years – came from beef he ate before safety laws changed.

A few months ago he was forced to give up his job as a barman at the Queen’s Arms gay pub in Brighton, where he also performed as a drag queen, due to the illness.

Originally from Cardiff, doctors say Ritchii has just a few months to live.

In an interview to the Argus newspaper, Ritchii said: “I had trouble for quite a long time, going back four years.

“My doctors didn’t take it seriously, my headaches and coordination being off balance.

“They just put it down to stress.”

Ritchii told his parents about the condition last month.

“My memory’s bad and so is my coordination and sometimes I can’t see,” he explained.

“I get hallucinations sometimes, which is part the disease and part the medication.

“I put toothpaste in the fridge once but I have no memory of doing it – it’s kind of like sleep walking.”

Variant CJD is incredibly rare with only 176 deaths in the UK since 1995 but there is no cure.

Ritchii is organising a charity event to raise awareness of CJD and money for the National CJD Research and Surveillance Unit in Edinburgh.

The event will take place at the Queen’s Arms in George Street, Brighton, at 4.30pm on Saturday 31 August, and include a performance from many drag queen acts, including Ritchii’s alter ego Pasty Cline.

Ritchii added: “People don’t know that CJD exists and this is about doing something positive.

“It’s for the future because they have got to find a cure for it one day and any money we raise is surely going to make a positive difference.”