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Influencer, fashion icon Desmond is Amazing speaks out on anti-trans bills, first drag show, and walking in the NYC Pride Parade

Florida and Texas remain two of the most populous states in the nation. Many trans people and trans kids live there. They should not have their rights stripped away from them. These proposals restrict LGBTQ+ people from learning how to be themselves. As a gender fluid person and a member of the trans community, I am a very happy person because I was able to learn to be myself.

  • 11 months ago
  • March 28, 2023
7 min read
Gender fluid model Desmond Napoles pushes the boundaries of what gender means and inspires people as they do so for themselves. Gender fluid model Desmond Napoles pushes the boundaries of what gender means and inspires people as they do so for themselves. | Photo courtesy of Wendy Napoles
Desmond is Amazing
Interview Subject
Desmond Napoles, aka Desmond is Amazing, is a groundbreaking LGBTQ+ advocate, genderfluid model, published author, and public speaker who really accepted an appointment to Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation. Desmond has appeared in The New York TimesNBC NewsTeen Vogue, and OUT Magazine, and now turns their sites to clothing design through their upcoming fashion venture Be Amazing NYC, which should be live online by the end of April 2023. Desmond’s ultimate goal is to show the world that you can be whoever you want to be and inspire people of all ages to embrace their true selves.
Background Information
On Wednesday, March 29, 2023, the Kentucky Senate passed into law Senate Bill 150. The bill prohibits conversations on sexual orientation and gender identity in schools at all grade levels, forbids schools from allowing trans students to the bathroom tied to their gender identity, allows teachers to ignore students’ preferred pronouns, bans all gender-affirming medical care for trans youth, and requires doctors to de-transition minors using restricted treatment options. This is just the latest in anti-trans legislation sweeping the nation. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, which maps and tracks anti-trans legislation in the United States, there is currently 435 anti-LGBTQ+ bills proposed throughout the states. Leader of the Family Foundation David Walls says the Kentucky bill aligns with “the truth that every child is created as a male or female and deserves to be loved, treated with dignity, and accepted for who they really are,” calling it “a win for children and their parents in Kentucky.” This despite the fact that more than two thirds of LGBTQ+ youth have indicated state efforts are negatively impacting their mental health.

NEW YORK CITY, United States ꟷ At six years old, my mom took me to my first kid-friendly drag show. I wore a brown wig and a plaid dress. We went to the comedy performance “Walking Children in Nature” by TaMMie Brown in New York City.

As we made our way through the restaurant and down the stairs at the venue, we came to a stage where we ate and watched the show. Although I froze the whole night, sitting underneath a vent blowing cold air, I enjoyed the performance a lot. I felt happy amidst the large group that gathered. The audience included mostly adults and one teenager. I was the only kid, but TaMMie kept everything age appropriate. After the drag show, I met TaMMie and took some pictures.

Read more first-person stories from the transgender community at Orato World Media.

Today, at 15 years old, I identify as gender fluid, and I work hard to live a balanced life. I feel especially concerned about the amount of anti-trans legislation proposed in the United States; I don’t think people realize how serious it is. [According to the Trans Legislation Tracker, 47 states proposed 489 bills in 2023 alone. Of those, 14 bills came out of Florida and 57 from Texas. Some of them include legislation outlawing drag performances.]

Florida and Texas remain two of the most populous states in the nation. Many trans people and trans kids live there. They should not have their rights stripped away from them. These proposals restrict LGBTQ+ people from learning how to be themselves. As a gender fluid person and a member of the trans community, I am a very happy person because I was able to learn to be myself. Sadly, other kids won’t get to experience the things I did.

Walking in my first pride parade in New York City

Two years after seeing TaMMie Brown’s drag show, at eight years old, I walked in my first NYC Pride Parade. I remember feeling very excited. My parents thought I would get bored in minutes and want to stop. “You aren’t going to go the whole way,” they said. “If you want to go, just tell us.” I proved them wrong and danced the entire parade route.

The experience felt surreal. Filled with excitement, I felt seen and noticed. When we got on the train that morning, people wearing pride accessories were everywhere. We got off at our stop and found our spot in the parade, waiting for hours in the sun for the parade to start. I made a sign for my mom while we waited. The parade went a really long way, straight through the village and passed the Stonewall Inn. [Stonewall is a gay bar and national historical landmark where the 1969 riots took place which launched the gay rights movement.]

The streets were packed with people, traffic, movement, and colorful things. Occasionally, I saw anti-LGBTQ+ protesters on corners holding signs. Big floats pulled by trucks mixed with smaller floats and individual groups of people marching and playing instruments. Around 23rd Street we passed the performance area, and all along the way, restaurants flew pride flags.

I felt so happy that day, and I am grateful because I know not everyone gets to have this experience. Everyone should, but some have unsupportive parents or don’t live in a place like New York. For kids like me, going to a pride parade is a big thing. It opens your mind. I felt nothing negative. Neither pride parades nor drag queen story hours hurt anyone.

A word of encouragement for young trans kids trying to figure themselves out

I always struggled with my identity and experimented with labels. I tried non-binary and gender queer. When I settled on gender fluid, it felt like the definition matched how I feel in my gender. I still question my gender today, so this is an ongoing process.

Being able to explore my identity helped me a lot. It helped me learn about myself and who I am inside; and made me more comfortable. I don’t fall into the typical gender stereotype of a man or a woman and I like being gender fluid which means “all.” I fluctuate from man to girl, from neither to both, and in between. At one point, I stopped doing drag because, eventually, I felt like it wasn’t drag anymore. It was just me being me.

People should have the opportunity to explore this way as long as it’s not hurting anyone. To the young people who have not had the experiences I had, it’s important to learn not everyone in the world will be supportive of you. It’s not okay, but it is reality. If you feel a certain way, learn to express it, but if you need to be less obvious about it right now to be safe, that’s okay too.

Some kids live in a household where people do not support them or worse, would hurt them. For those kids, you may have to wait until you are a little older to start expressing yourself fully, but in the meantime, it’s okay to internally learn who you are. If you feel uncertain where your parents stand, you might ask questions like, “What do you think about this person who is gay or that person who is trans?” Feel them out but stay safe expressing your identity.

The future, anti-trans legislation, and getting involved 

Many of the anti-trans bills remain unconstitutional and very dangerous. The backers of these bills want to get rid of trans people altogether.

[On Thursday, March 2, 2023, Tennessee became the first state to explicitly ban drag shows in public spaces. It prohibits “adult cabaret performances” where minors could watch. It defines those as “adult-oriented performances” that include “male or female impersonators.” The language leaves a lot of room for interpretation and potential abuse on trans people. Some argue that the ban could negatively impact pride parades and events, where many young people from the LGBTQ+ community finally find a sense of belonging and safety.]

We need to stand up and fight these immoral and disgusting bills. [Change.org features numerous petitions people can sign, and the ACLU features one specifically for trans youth. The National Center for Transgender Equality also features an action center with multiple methods for activism. For people struggling in their journey or who need community, the Trans Lifeline offers incredible peer-to-peer support.

Just as I take on my own advocacy efforts, I continue to be creative. I am most excited today about my clothing store Be Amazing NYC. [Desmond serves as the designer behind the fashion line, set to relaunch around the end of April 2023. Be Amazing NYC offers an affirming shopping experience for the LGBTQ+ community and their allies. The line will be fully available online.]

Read more stories in the Sex & Gender category from Orato World Media.

At 15 years old, Desmond’s resume proves extensive including campaigns with brands like Converse and Google, but also work with agencies like the United Nations and Unicef | Photo courtesy of Strekoza

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