New York City Pride organisers have been accused of making the event a “celebration of paedophilia” for putting a 10-year-old “drag kid” at the front and centre of its advertising campaign.
Desmond Napoles, known better as ‘Desmond is Amazing’, is part of the ‘Defiantly Different’ 2018 Pride.
Speaking in the campaign ad, the youngster explains that he identifies as an “androgynous drag kid” who knows he is “different”.
“I am very young and doing drag at a very young age.
“It makes me feel amazing. It gives me courage and also gives other people courage to do what they want,” he says in the ad.
But anti-LGBT activists have targeted Pride over Desmond’s love for drag and confidence in performing.
Michelle Cretella, president of the anti-LGBT conservative lobbying group the American College of Paediatricians, has said that the Pride event would be a “celebration of paedophilia” is it allows young children to perform.
“As a paediatrician, I will go one step farther and say that the parents of these children and others promoting this are guilty of paedophilic grooming
“Our culture is morally blind and has suppressed the scientific facts about homosexuality and transgenderism,” she told CBN.
Cretella has a long history of anti-LGBTQ rhetoric as she says being transgender harms children, and believes it to be a “mental illness”.
Speaking to PinkNews, the Media Director of NYC Pride, James Fallarino, said:”Desmond is a great kid with a great family that supports him. He’s a role model for his peers, and he is the embodiment of our ‘Defiantly Different’ theme this year.
“I think it’s pretty low for anyone to attack a 10-year-old, but considering these are the same people who believe hurricanes are God’s punishment for homosexuality, this isn’t entirely surprising.
“They don’t exactly have a track record of respect for anyone who doesn’t fit their radically narrow worldview.
“They can call us whatever they want, but we aren’t going to shy away from the important work we’re doing every day to ensure that Desmond, and all LGBTQIA+ young people, can have Pride in who they are.”
Desmond’s father, Andrew Napoles, has said that the original CBN article in which the views of Cretella and others appear in is a “false narrative”.
“The only logical reason for creating this false narrative is for the engagement they generate by promoting the disproven idea of pedophilia being connected to homosexuality.
“The comments generated by these articles –especially on Facebook– show that there are still plenty of gullible people who still believe this and allow CBN generate income from their ignorance,” Napoles told PinkNews.
Cretella is not alone in her criticisms as child advocate Donna Rice Hughes from Enough is Enough, a group which has numerous ties to right-wing Christian organisations, said that “Children need to have a protected age of innocence”.
Hughes added that it was the responsibility of “parents, adult family members, the community and the culture at large” to ensure these protections.
She also said that “extreme Internet porn” meant that childhood was “being corroded and innocence lost”.
“Add to that, gender confusion which I am convinced is largely due to early sexualization, sexual abuse, and the liberal gay agenda,” Hughes added.
Monica Burke of the Heritage Foundation, a leading anti-LGBTQ group, corroborated Hughes and Cretella’s statements – and tried to argue that Desmond’s performance in drag was the reason we “need to press pause on the transgender moment”.
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“Normally, 80 to 95 percent of children will naturally grow out of any gender-identity conflicted stage. Unfortunately, many activists have given up on caution and advise drastic treatments, which range from social transition to puberty-blocking drugs and sex change surgeries,” Burke said.
Speaking about the theme for NYC Pride this year, co-chair David Studinski said that it was about “Squaring our shoulders in the face of adversity, and continuing to sculpt that magnetic bond within the LGBTQ+ community and our allies”.
NYC Pride 2018 will take place from June 14 to June 24 – including the NYC Pride March, PrideFest, Pride Island, and new events ubckydubg the Human Rights Conference, GameChangers, and culinary event, Savor Pride.
Desmond previously set up the first drag club for children.
The performer, who identifies as gay, describes himself on Instagram as “a Drag Kid, Dragutante, and Dragketeer doing what I like to call Kinderdrag. I’m a total Drag Slayer”.
Desmond’s parents, his website explains, accepted Desmond’s desire to dress in drag after they realised that their uneasiness came “from their own misgivings about how the outside world would react.
“It was as simple as defeating those feelings, accepting Desmond as he is, and respecting Desmond’s own tastes and preferences.”