When the mother of an 11-year-old drag queen allowed her son to dance in a gay nightclub as adults threw dollar bills at the child, the family drew national attention. They also became the focus of child protective services, which reportedly reached a controversial conclusion.
“Desmond is Amazing,” an 11-year-old drag queen, received the support of his family when he started dressing in girls’ clothing. “We allow Desmond to be himself & do what he loves. We are a loving and supporting family,” the boy’s mother, Wendy Napoles, explained. As the family quickly learned, however, not everyone agrees with Desmond’s lifestyle or the things he’s been exposed to at a young age.
Donning a blonde wig, high heels, a crop top, and full make-up, Desmond danced provocatively to No Doubt’s “Just a Girl” during an appearance at 3 Dollar Bill, a gay Brooklyn nightclub, as adults threw dollar bills at the boy. When his now-infamous performance was shared on social media, public outcry and accusations of abuse ensued with more than 150 complaints filed with the city’s Administration for Children’s Services, the Brooklyn Paper reported.
“We have been accused of child abuse, exploitation & maltreatment to the point that we have been backed into a corner trying to defend ourselves,” Napoles wrote on the Desmond is Amazing Instagram page, according to The Blaze. “Recently a YouTube video was made stating that we should allow ACS (CPS) to investigate if we have nothing to hide. Which we have … We have been under a microscope … I never thought I would have to breach my own privacy & confidentiality to provide proof that has been demanded of us out of malice.”
In a lengthy post, Napoles added that her family was investigated thoroughly, including both announced and unannounced visits to their home and Desmond’s school. Claiming her family was probed “more intensely than any other case before,” she revealed that child protective services ruled that the abuse accusations were “unfounded.” In an attempt to prove her point, Napoles also posted 10 images, showing letters and envelopes from authorities exonerating her and Desmond’s father Andy, who also supports his son’s drag queen pursuits.
ACS has investigated us thoroughly. Because of the number of reports they received, our case went all the way to the Governor’s office. We had announced visits & unannounced visits to our home nearly daily & at all hours & Desmond’s school. Our family was probed more intensely than any other case before. All allegations were “unfounded.” Currently, we send screenshots of anyone encouraging others or admitting to contacting ACS to ACS to keep in our file. ACS is not a weapon. So many ACS resources could have gone to families that needed help. On the plus side, ACS has been offering us many support services.
In addition, we were investigated by the NYPD, the Child Advocacy Center, the Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the Department of Labor, and the District Attorney’s office. No abuse or maltreatment was found. No regulations for child performers were broken. No illegal activity has occurred.
We endured countless posts & videos slandering our family by people who have never contacted us for the truth or watched Desmond’s videos where he has spoken for himself. We put up with lies & rumors. We daily clear social media of hateful comments & messages. Someone has been messaging Desmond’s followers to convince them of alleged abuse. We deal with hate crimes & death threats perpetuated by “concerned citizens” & have been stalked. The NYPD is assisting us. Desmond has extra security measures in place at his school. All of this because we allow Desmond to be himself & do what he loves. We are a loving and supporting family. Anyone who knows us or met us can attest to that.
Although the abuse claims were reportedly “unfounded,” Desmond’s social media page claims he’s been traumatized by the whole process, San Diego Gay & Lesbian News reported. In addition, his parents say they were “forced to cancel appearances for fear of being attacked by people outside of the LGBT community and that the tween performer has taken the accusations against his family personally,” and it was all taking a toll on the kid.
“Imagine starting a new school as a well known public figure and queer kid,” the social media post read, according to SDGLN. “Then to have ACS, the NYPD, and other agencies show up to pull you out of class to talk to you several times a week. His grades have gone down … He has cried many a night because he thought he did something wrong and blames himself for the constant hate and investigations. He feels so confused. ACS has provided him therapy.”
However, this wasn’t the first time the boy received therapy. According to Wendy and Andy Napoles, when Desmond began wanting to wear dresses outside the home after he had started dressing in girls’ clothing at a young age, they consulted a therapist who they say advised them to “allow Desmond to develop naturally,” according to information on the Desmond is Amazing website.
So, rather than restrict him, Desmond’s parents allowed him to “inherently progress, explore, and choose his tastes in clothing, toys, and activities on his own.” As a result, he “developed his gender identity as non-conforming, or gender fluid, as a young child” but has no desire to become transgender. “From early on, he has said that he is a boy who enjoys dressing up as a girl,” the Desmond is Amazing website explains. But, Desmond’s parents have done more than just support their son’s drag queen pursuits privately.
The Napoles have made their son a very public figure, allowing the “drag kid” to be featured in magazines, on websites, social media, and national television, including ABC’s “Good Morning America,” as seen above. According to his website, Desmond “is already a notable LGBTQ activist and advocate,” having founded Haus of Amazing — a drag house for kids — with plans to do even more very public things for LGBTQ youth.
As Desmond and his family have learned, thrusting a kid into the public eye isn’t always “amazing.” It comes with consequences — including criticism and concern for the child’s wellbeing. When individuals seek popularity and praise from the public, they must be prepared for the flip side of that. If you don’t want society to scrutinize your parenting, perhaps it’s not wise to shine a spotlight on your controversial choices in hopes of obtaining fame.