Desmond Napoles Instills Boundless Hope in Today's Youth
As soon as I came across Desmond Napoles (aka “Desmond is Amazing”) on Teen Vogue’s Instagram, I knew that I needed to reach out. Only 11-years-old, this outspoken gay youth is a performer, drag kid, awarded LGBTQ advocate, editorial model, and fashion designer. He first got recognized by the public after dancing proudly in a rainbow tutu and sparkly gold beret at the 2015 NYC Pride March. Overnight, he was featured on Yahoo, Perez Hilton, and more media channels worldwide. After his mom decided to create a Facebook fan page for him called “Desmond is Amazing,” the name stuck and became his official stage name. Desmond is also the founder of the first ever drag house that is exclusively for the youth, called the Haus of Amazing. The goal of the space is to bring together anyone who loves drag and make them feel safe and inspired in a positive community. Since the drag house only allows members ages twenty and younger, kids and teens can communicate comfortably with their peers without fear of judgment. At the 2017 NYC Pride Rally, Desmond wrote and delivered a speech about the importance of Pride in his life, and following the event, and months later, was awarded the Marsha P. Johnson Don’t be Outraged, Be Outrageous Award in honor of his activism for LGBTQ rights. Desmond is not slowing down anytime soon--in fact, he is currently in the process of developing a magazine called “The Amaziest,” where all content is created and submitted by LGBTQ youth. He is also launching a video series on his YouTube channel called “Let’s Get Amazingly Real with Desmond is Amazing", where he will respond to questions comments that are sent to him, whether they are positive or negative. This way, viewers will be inspired to face the hatred directed towards them in their own lives in a respectful, confident, and mature manner. I was honored to have been given the opportunity to interview this young hero about the exciting journey of his life so far. Prepare to be inspired...
Why is it so important to you to promote the LGBTQ movement for youth in America?
I feel like there isn't a lot of support for LGBTQ youth. I can't even attend local programs at the LGBTQ centers until I am 13 or 14 years old. There isn't a lot of support for young drag kids either. So I think it’s important for me to use my platform to speak out for LGBTQ youth and to inspire as many people as I can.
In what ways are you paving a future where kids can feel more confident about who they are?
I think other kids will see me and say that if I can express myself and be confident without fear, then they will want to start expressing themselves in their own ways. I also started the first drag house for drag kids, the Haus of Amazing—I hope to bring drag kids together from around the world.
What was your motivation behind opening your own drag house?
I have a lot of drag kid friends on Instagram. I wanted to talk to all of them together, but Instagram only lets you have a group chat with a maximum of 15 people. I was upset because I felt like I was leaving people out, so then I had the idea to start my own house and bring all the drag kids together.
What has been your proudest moment to date?
My proudest moment was when I received the Marsha P. Johnson Don't Be Outraged Be Outrageous Award from Heritage of Pride last year. It made me realize that when I grow up, I want to do the same thing I'm doing now. I want to do drag and be an LGBTQ advocate.
Is there a particular celebrity that inspires what you do?
I am inspired by RuPaul. I also love Daphne Guinness. She is beautiful and has the most phenomenal clothes.
Does fashion have a special meaning in your life?
Oh, yes. I love fashion! It's so artistic and beautiful. I want to be a fashion designer one day. I am going to call my fashion company “Amazement” which is a combination of the words "amazing" and "statement". I design my own outfits in my fashion template book and my mom helps me make them.
Do you style your outfits as well?
Yes, I do. I usually design my own outfits for events and photo shoots. I'll pull different clothes out and put them together to make a look that speaks to me. I’ve also been into sustainable fashion lately, ever since I watched the documentary "The True Cost." I like to shop at Out of the Closet, an LGBTQ thrift store to get clothes to use as material for my outfits. I also do my own makeup, but my mom helps sometimes.
Who are some of your favorite designers?
I love John Galliano, Jean Paul Gaultier, Anna Sui, The Blonds, Malan Breton, Gypsy Sport, Alexander McQueen, Dottavio, Comme Des Garçons, Rebirth Garments, and Thierry Mugler. All of those designers are very creative and avant-garde.
What’s one piece of advice you can give readers who feel like they are drowning in insecurities?
My motto is to be yourself...always. Express who you are in whatever way that makes you feel beautiful. There is no right or wrong way to express yourself and there are no limits, no matter your age, race, identity, gender, orientation, or abilities. Pay no attention to the haters because they will never be as fierce as you.