In the US, Desmond is already a little celebrity and is courted and celebrated by stars. Countless US media have already reported on the 11-year-old boy from New York. Some German media have taken these reports, translated and created their own reports. For VOISZ.com Desmond and his mother Wendy took their time for an interview in German-speaking countries for the first time. You can find the interview in German here. [Klick hier für die deutsche Version]
But who is Desmond? And why is an 11-year-old boy worth reporting worldwide? Desmond Napoles lives with his parents in New York. Already at the age of 2 years he began to wear his mother’s clothes. He saw it on TV at “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and was fascinated. His parents allowed it, yet asked a psychologist what they should do. The answer: “neither promote nor suppress.” And so they let Desmond grant. Apart from school, Desmond wears his outfits and finally publishes photos of them via Facebook and Instagram. The drag-kid Desmond was born and is now celebrated worldwide.
In the interview with VOISZ.com we asked Desmond and his mother Wendy about all the positive and negative reactions.
Desmond, you started to dress like a drag queen very early on. Many children worldwide wear their mother’s clothes. The most only in their own house. Why did you start going outside in these outfits?
Desmond: I decided to go outside in drag so I could show people that kids can do drag.
Wendy, what were the first reactions from your family, your friends and of course the people on the street?
Wendy: I didn’t really get any reaction from my family. I grew up in a family where I had gay relatives. My friends were also very supportive. We don’t receive a lot of hate on the street, but occasionally we do. We are lucky to live in New York City where people are more tolerant and don’t really care what other people are doing.
Wendy, did the reactions change after the fame of Desmond?
Wendy: No. The only thing that changed was that we started to receive online hate and we still do on a daily basis.
At first you only dressed as Drag just at home, then outside as well. After all, you went online with your pictures on social media. Why did you decide to take this public step?
Desmond: After I became viral in 2015 and my mom’s friend started a Facebook page called Desmond is Amazing. That’s when I first had a social media account.
Wendy: After Desmond went viral in 2015, a friend of mine created a Facebook Fan Page called Desmond is Amazing, just as a place where Desmond could share photos and talk with his fans. We didn’t do Instagram or Twitter until mid-2017. People had kept asking us if they could follow him on Twitter or they would ask us why he didn’t have an Instagram. So, we started those accounts. My husband and I both monitor them several times a day to remove hate.
In your school you do not wear any drag outfits. But the kids around you need to know about your lifestyle. Do you have problems at school with children, teachers or parents?
Desmond: Some kids know but many of the kids don’t know. They just know that I am famous. We wear uniforms to school.
Wendy: Desmond hasn’t really had a problem. When Desmond when to Kindergarten, we sat down with the Principal and helped put together an anti-bullying policy in his school. So anytime Desmond did encounter bullying, there were consequences.
In some articles about Desmond I could read that there were some negative reactions. What do you think about it?
Desmond: Well, I don’t really know much about it. All I know is that people say things like “child abuse” or say my parents are for pedophilia, but usually I don’t see the hate because my parents remove it before I can go on my accounts.
Do you understand the people who say, “I will not allow my son to dress like Desmond in public”?
Wendy: Yes and no. No, I don’t understand why people don’t allow their kids to dress up because it is harmless and fun for kids. Yes, because everyone is different and truthfully, people have the right to parent their children they way that they feel is most appropriate for their family.
Desmond: No, I think you should let your children dress however they want, no matter what.
Many pictures show that Desmond also goes to Gayprides. Does the gay community help you to become more accepted?
Desmond: Yes, it helps me feel more accepted in the LGBTQ+ community.
Wendy: Definitely. The LGBTQ+ community is very supportive of Desmond and Desmond is also very supportive of the community as well.
How does the gay community help you? Have there ever been any bad reactions in this open-mind community?
Wendy: The LGBTQ+ community is very accepting and diverse. Sometimes there are bad reactions, but I feel like those come because of a misunderstanding of what drag kids are or even jealousy at Desmond’s success so young.
Desmond: The LGBTQ+ community has helped me because they have supported me throughout this journey. Very few bad reactions.
Do you sometimes regret going public?
Desmond: I will never regret going public because I have always dreamed to be famous and I want to help others to be themselves.
Wendy: I don’t regret it, but sometimes on days when we receive a lot of hate, I wish I could go back to a time when we didn’t have to deal with that. It becomes such a heavy burden to carry around all the time.
What are the good things that the public and worldwide fame bring with them?
Desmond: Some of the good things are that I am showing people how to be themselves and making drag kids more recognized by people all around the world.
Wendy: Desmond is able to inspire so many young people (and adults) to be themselves and feel comfortable in who they are. He also inspires other kids that are like him, that like to do drag. Desmond doesn’t earn much money, but what he does earn, goes into a trust account that he will be able to access when he is 18 years old, so he is doing what he enjoys and making a future for himself doing it.
What would you like to do for job later? Something on stage? Maybe work as drag queen? Or something completely different?
Desmond: I want to be exactly as I am right now. I want to be a drag queen and a LGBTQ+ advocate. Also, a fashion designer.
After the last years and the reactions about your way: What is the most important thing you want to tell the world?
Desmond: I want to tell people not to hate others. Just pay the haters no mind because they will never be as fierce as you and I. Also that anyone can do drag no matter their age, gender, identity, race, or disabilities. My motto is “be yourself always”.
Wendy: I just want to tell parents to love their children unconditionally and to support their interests, as long as they are harmless and positive.