They say we hate what we don't understand. It couldn't be more true than when it comes to the LGBTQ+ community. Instead of trying to learn and understand, people are perfectly fine upholding their bigotry. Because of this, an 11-year-old and his family are constantly being harassed, including many calls to Child Protective Services. And why? Because the young boy performs as a drag queen. People who know nothing about the family other than the pictures of the boy in drag online. And they're using those pictures, including a recent shoe ad as the basis to make his family's life miserable.
Desmond Napoles, aka Desmond is Amazing, became interested in drag after watching episodes of RuPaul's Drag Race with his mom Wendy. Seeing something in himself reflected back at him gave him the courage to ask his mom if he could try drag himself. Naturally, Wendy was hesitant — she knew that allowing her son to dress in drag and perform could open him up to a world of harassment.
"We had to let go of that thought — 'What are other people going to think?' — because it made him happy," Wendy tells BuzzfeedNews.
Of course, Wendy's fears weren't for nothing. As Desmond began sharing his persona through social media, (which Wendy runs) they began getting waves of harassment. A lot of the comments were accusing Wendy of forcing her child to perform in drag. Sure, some parents will guide their children into performing, but it almost always starts with an interest from the child. If you see the makeup looks Desmond sports, you would realize how hard it would be to force him to be still for that long.
Another shocking accusation the family was seeing was pedophilia and sexualization. "For whatever reason, the conservative media has really made a target of Desmond. No matter what it is, no matter what we do, they come after us," Wendy explains.
The conservative media attacks led to people calling Child Protective Services and other authorities to investigate the family. It was a nightmare — agents were calling constantly, and Desmond was being pulled out of classes in school to face questioning. In the end, CPS didn't find anything to validate the claims, which Wendy and her family knew would happen. But then, after Desmond was featured in a new ad by sneaker brand Converse for their pride sneakers, the calls began again.
"They’re getting the same kind of complaints, and they’re so frustrated and annoyed," Wendy said of CPS.
In addition to the called to CPS, the comments on Desmond's Instagram posts can be beyond just harassment. Wendy explains that there have been straight up death threats. Thankfully, since she runs his social media, she is able to shield Desmond from a lot of it. But you can't shield a child from government agents showing up at his school. Without a doubt, all of this is scary for the family, but Wendy says Desmond truly loves drag.
"He really is inspired by all of the people that he inspires."
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A couple of amazing NYC drag kids out for an afternoon of shopping, ice cream, and hanging out at the park . . Left to right: @saintazriel.ick @jandoras_box_boutique @desmondisamazing @nosfagatu @katastrophejest . . My dress is vintage @betseyjohnson and my shoes are @yrushoes . . #desmondisamazing #beyourselfalways Booking: @pegmgmt
Understanding the things that make us different is difficult to grasp for some people. But there is no reason for this kind of hate in the year 2019. LGBTQ+ people aren't freaks or pedophiles or perverts. And the quicker we learn that, the faster we can save lives.