10-Year-Old Drag Superstar Desmond Napoles & His Mom Talk Coming Out

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Illustration: Hilton Dresden

Brooklyn's 10-year-old drag queen Desmond Napoles catapulted to queer fame when a video of him voguing down Fifth Avenue at the 2015 New York Pride Parade went viral. Since then, the preteen queen has blown up as a symbol of LGBTQ pride and the next generation of drag culture. Most recently, Desmond cut the ribbon at this year's NYC DragCon alongside RuPaul. "We are the promise of America's future," the drag icon said, hand-in-hand with Desmond, who wore a hot pink number with Ru's face on the front. 

Related | RuPaul Is Everything: The Rise & Reign of America's First Drag Superstar

While he's only 10, Desmond already has a strong grasp of his queerness. He and his mother, Wendylou Napoles, were happy to talk about Desmond's coming out as gay at such an early age and were comfortable openly exploring his identity with us. The pair also discussed the amazing drag community they've found through Instagram, what it's like to be so fabulous in grade school, first crushes, and how much of a "big loser" President Trump is. 

OUT: Desmond, what has been your coming out story? 

Desmond: Ever since day one... ever since I was able to walk, I used to take my mom’s towels and take her heels and clomp around the house. [I'd] put the towel on my head, wrap a towel around my body and walk the runway down my house.

Wendylou (to Desmond): When did you know you were gay?

Desmond: Well, I started having crushes on boys. So that said, Oh I’m gay because I like other boys. Most boys don’t know if they’re gay until they are 18 or somewhere around that age. And a lot of boys like ladies, but I don’t like ladies. I like boys.

When did you first know that? Was there a first crush?

Desmond: I can’t remember. I don’t remember much of my baby life.

Wendylou: I think it was really when you started watching RuPaul... maybe Jinkx?

Desmond: Yeah.

Wendylou: I think Jinkx was the first one.

You had a crush on Jinkx?

Desmond: Yeah.

How old were you when you saw Jinkx? 

Wendylou: Wasn’t it 8? Or do you think it was earlier?

Desmond: [It was] when the season first started, when she came in.

Wendylou: 7 years old.

Mom, did you two have a conversation about being gay? 

Wendylou: We talked about it actually. In fact, when he was younger, we thought that maybe he was trans because of his strong preference for girls’ toys and wearing girls’ clothes. And even then we thought, well if that’s the case, maybe we should just let that alone and not discourage it... or encourage it [and] just let it happen. Also, we thought, maybe it’s just a phase and it would change, but then once he started telling us that he had crushes on boys and that he thought he could be gay, that was like, Okay, that’s alright. It wasn’t anything like a whole drawn out conversation.

And what about transness? You don’t feel you're trans, Desmond?

Desmond: *shakes head no.*

What has it been like to grow up and be seen by all these people because of your fabulousness? 

Desmond: Fun! 

What has your experience been like with it, Mom?

Mom: I think it’s a good thing because, for instance, on Instagram, there’s a lot of younger followers and we get messages that he’s really inspiring to them. We get messages from people, like in Colombia, saying, We’re not allowed to be outwardly [in] drag or gay and it means a lot to see somebody that is. So there’s a positive aspect to it. But then there’s an uglier aspect where we get a lot of haters andthings like that. It comes with a territory and I mostly just leave them alone.

Desmond: We don’t answer them because my fans will take care of it because, Mind your own business. If you don’t like it, don’t look at it.

Have you made other young friends online or in school who also do drag? 

Desmond: My school doesn’t have any gays, but I have friends online like Sparkles, Pink Sasss, and CJ Stardust.

Wendylou: There’s a lot of them, really. They chat a lot, too, back and forth, and like each other’s pictures. I think that’s really positive, too. Desmond decided he wanted to start his drag house called "House of Amazing" for other drag kids to join so they could chat together and share videos... basically, his little community of kids like him. So CJ Stardust is now "Stardust Amazing." So far, CJ is the only member, but he just came up with the idea a few days ago.

Have you met any of those people in real life? 

Desmond: Yeah, at DragCon!

Since you're so young, what does it feel like to be growing up with Trump as president? 

Desmond: I think that Trump is just a big loser. People should be able to be free and let themselves express how they want, whenever they want. Let them be [his or herself], and if you don’t like how people are, you don’t like yourself.

Wendylou: It’s very scary as a parent because you always have that in the back of your mind, that your child could be bullied or even attacked for who they are. And you just try your best to protect them and look out for them, but always in the back of your mind is danger.

Is there a lot of bullying type going on at school, or is it mostly friendly? 

Wendylou: It’s very friendly at his school because we helped put together an anti-bullying policy. If someone says something to him, they call the parents right away. It’s not acceptable to bully kids at his school, which is positive.

Desmond: If your parents say, Oh, gay is bad or it’s a sin, pay them no mind and say, If you don’t like me, I’m gonna leave. If you have a center in your city, they have lots of programs that help you. And if you feel suicidal, don’t commit because there is always love in the world. There are a lot of people like you and my motto is, Be yourself always.

Tags: Interviews, Pride

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