Desmond Napoles: How a 10-year-old New York ‘drag kid’ became an LGBT icon
Desmond Napoles is a 10-year-old boy who is taking the world by storm, one fabulous outfit at a time.
Napoles, from Brooklyn, is a “drag kid” who has become an icon within the LGBT community after first being spotted in a rainbow outfit at the New York Pride Parade in 2015.
Known on social media as Desmond is Amazing, he now has nearly 60,000 followers on Instagram and even created the first ever drag club for just for children, Haus of Amazing.
Speaking to Pink News, Napoles’ mum Wendy explains why it’s so important her son is allowed to be who he wants to be.
“I believe that it is important for any parent to support their children in their interests and allow them to express themselves,” she says. “It builds a child’s sense of self and instills confidence within them.
“I compare what I am doing to a mum whose son might be interested in football. The parents would certainly take him to events like football games. Or a girl whose is interested in ballet. Her parent’s would take her to watch the ballet or to dance related events,” Wendy adds.
Wendy says she has always been an LGBT ally. “Growing up, my favourite family member was my uncle. He was an actor, a costumer, and one of the funniest people I’ve ever known. And he was gay,” she says.
“He inspired me so much and instilled in me a love of fashion. Unfortunately, he passed away from AIDS in 1994.”
When Napoles was younger, he loved playing dress up with anything he could transform into an outfit, from bed sheets to bubble wrap. At the age of five, he started ballet lessons – and still has a passion for dancing today, although a different kind.
He is now the youngest member of the House of UltraOmni, one of the original New York City voguing houses.
“Desmond had seen clips of voguing from the film Paris is Burning. He especially loved Pepper LaBeija and Willie Ninja,” his mum says.
First shown at the Toronto Film Festival in 1990, the groundbreaking documentary film captures New York’s ballroom subculture in the 1980s – and the lives of queer people of colour and transgender people.
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“Afterwards he would watch voguing videos on YouTube and practice the moves. In June 2017, he decided he wanted to compete in the NYC Legacy Ball hosted by Sydney UltraOmni,” Wendy says.
“Although Desmond did not win his category, the House of UltraOmni was impressed with his performance and drive and asked him to join the house. In the voguing world, Desmond is known as Desmond UltraOmni.”
Wendy says her son loves that he is able to express himself in any way when he is voguing.
“He says that it is an outer expression of the inner self. He believes that there is no wrong way to do drag, even if you look like a disaster,” she says.
“As long as you feel fabulous, you are doing it right. And drag is for anyone, no matter what sex, age, gender, identity, ability, or race. Voguing is similar because it is an expression of one’s self through presentation and dance.”
Wendy adds there is one quote her son would like to give: “Be yourself, always. If you get bullied, just pay the haters no mind, because they will never be as fierce as you.”