Desmond Napoles, also known as @desmondisamazing on Instagram, is a performer, drag kid, awarded LGBTQ advocate, and outspoken gay youth. Desmond is only 11 years-old and sees himself as androgynous and genderbending. Desmond captured the heart and minds of many in the 2015 New York City Pride Parade, when he proudly danced his way down the street in a rainbow tutu and a sparkly golden beret. He has been featured on Dazed, The Today Show and many more. He has become an icon of self expression and has inspired many to be their true selves. From haters to self expression, Desmond shared himself and his thoughts below.
Madison Grace: It’s June! A.K.A Pride Month! How are you celebrating?
Desmond Napoles: This month has been so busy! I attended the Brooklyn Pride March and will be marching in the NYC Pride March. I was honored to be the Pride Mayor at the Children's Museum of the Arts Pride Celebration. I have also been putting together lots of Pride themed photos for my Instagram so I can inspired other people to celebrate Pride and to be themselves no matter what anyone tells them. I will be performing Gloria Gaynor's version of "I Am What I Am" at 12:00pm at the NYC Pride Fest on June 24th.
M: That’s all so exciting, now for those who don’t known, what is drag?
DN: Drag is an expression of your inner self on your outer self. Drag is art and drag is love. It is a true form of self expression. And anyone can do drag no matter your age, race, gender, identity, orientation, or abilities.
M: When did you begin doing drag and why did you get into it?
DN: I used to take my mom's bed sheets, towels. bubble wrap, cardboard, t-shirts, high heels, basically anything I could grab and would put them all on like dresses and pretend wigs and sashay shante down the hallway when I was like 2 or 3. I saw RuPaul's Drag Race and I said, "I want to do that!" I started doing drag professionally when I was 7 years old. I was in Jinkx Monsoon's music video for "The Bacon Shake". It was kind of embarrassing because I didn't even have any front teeth.
M: I bet it was still fantastic! Why do you think drag is an important kind of self expression?
DN: Drag allows people to explore who they are. If one outfit doesn't work then you can try something else and that helps you discover who is inside of you. As long as you feel fabulous then you are doing drag right.
M: Why is self expression important to you?
DN: When people express themselves they feel self-confident and feel worthy. They can let go and just love themselves. If you don't express yourself you feel sad and are always looking for who you are. People should just be themselves, always, no matter what anyone says. I think that is the best way to live.
M: From my understanding your parents have been incredibly supportive of you. Why is it crucial that parents encourage discussion about self expression and identity with their kids?
DN: I'm very lucky to have parents that support me because some people don't have parents like mine. If you always feel like you are doing something wrong or have to always hide who you are it causes a lot of pain. It's important for parents to support their children. If they don't their child will grow up holding onto that pain and feeling resentment.
M: What do you want to use your following for?
DN: I want to use my fame to be visible all over the world so I can inspire others to be who they are and to stop bullying. I don't want to use my fame to be a diva because I want to help others and that's my goal.
M: Can you talk about Haus of Amazing?
DN: Haus of Amazing is the first drag house for drag kids. I founded it in October 2017. I had so many drag kid friends but could only talk to 15 of them at a time on Instagram messenger. I felt bad because I felt like I left people out. We were going to set it up originally as a private Facebook group but after a mass hate attack on my Facebook Page in December, my parents decided we had to do something different. So now they are building a social network from scratch just like Facebook where all of the Haus of Amazing members can communicate and plan events.
M: That Haus of Amazing Social Network does sound amazing! When do you plan on launching it?
DN: Sometime this summer, likely this August.
M: What advice do you have for those struggling with self identity, expression, and/ or confidence?
DN: I think you should start slowly. Just start by putting on one small item that makes you feel beautiful and then go out and feel fabulous. Own it, hunny. Then you can add more when you feel comfortable and you will start to fully express yourself. If your parents tell you that you can't do it, then you should go to a LGBTQ Center because they have programs that can help. If not that then find a friend that loves you for who you are. Remember that nothing stays the same and things are always changing; things will get better.
Follow Desmond on Instagram at @desmondisamazing, on Twitter at @desmond_amazing, and on Facebook and YouTube at Desmond is Amazing.
Check out Desmond’s "Be Yourself Always" t-shirts at DragQueenMerch.com. A portion of the sale goes to help homeless LGBTQ youth at the Ali Forney Center in New York City.