The mother of an 8-year-boy received some serious backlash after a photograph of her son at New York Pride was posted on Facebook. In the photo you can see Desmond Napoles dancing in the parade wearing a rainbow tutu and gold-sequined head dress.
The photo was posted in an NYC Pride album on NewNowNext’s Facebook, the photo in question can be viewed here. Many of the criticisms that the mother of Desmond, who is also being referred to as, “Desi” had to with her parenting skills and accusations of “sexualizing,” her son.
According to Yahoo! News, Desi’s parents have been taking him to the Pride Festival since he was six years old. He had wanted to join in on the march last year but finally gave in to him this year. The family including Desmond’s mother, father and teenage sister marched with the PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays.
Anybody who has ever read through Facebook comments know that that these comments can be anything from sarcastic to rude to jaw-dropping over-the-top.
Wendylou Napoles, the boy’s mother responded to the negative comments with a long heartfelt Facebook comment. The picture of Desi has been “liked” 5,050 times, and Mrs. Napoles’s Facebook comment has been liked 826 times. While she does a thorough job explaining why Desi was at the parade, what it meant to him she has continued to receive criticism, but also a lot of support as well.
The response can be seen in its entirety below.
I am bothered by some of the comments that say I should be ashamed of letting my son be himself at the Pride parade. I am sickened by the comments that say I am sexualizing him. In reply, I want to ask you what would you do in my shoes? In having a child like this, how would you handle it? I had to decide how I would handle it and a big part of that was asking what would do more damage to my child? Should I encourage him to express who he feels that he is and to be himself knowing that this road will be a hard and cruel one in today’s society? Or, should I discourage him and tell him that he cannot be himself knowing that he will carry a great deal of grief and baggage about this throughout his life and may even grow to believe that there is something wrong with himself? It’s not easy. People don’t realize how hard it is to be the parent of a child like this.
He has always been very gender fluid when it came to toys and his development. He preferred fashion dolls to action figures. I looked at both in the store and figured that the action figure was as much a doll as a Barbie, so if he wanted the one marketed to girls, that was fine with me. He also likes to play with trains, especially wooden subway trains. He never wanted to play sports and likes to draw pictures and do word searches. He goes to ballet class and loves to dance. He loves drag queens and thinks that it is fantastic that boys can play dress up and become beautiful girls, even after they grow up. He, himself, likes to play dress up in skirts and dresses, but most days he looks like any other “boy”. He is a shy boy who is self-conscious about his missing teeth when he smiles and very intelligent. He doesn’t like school because he gets bullied, but he does well academically. We do our best to stop the bullying and involve the LGBT services at his school. We keep him involved in the LGBT community because we believe that by speaking to other people who were like him when they were his age reinforces that he is of value and that his life as he wants to live it is okay.
This boy was always very feminine from day one and instead of denying it or condemning it, we embraced it. We did not need to encourage it, it was always there. He just needed the love and reassurance that he has a place in this world, as does any child. The development into the sparkle loving, happy, tutu-wearing boy in this photo was very natural and gradual and age appropriate. We spoke with doctors and therapists. Not because there was anything wrong with him, but because we wanted to understand and learn and do the right things for our child. We did not force him to be this way. We did not expose him to sexuality in the way some people project. He is 8 years old and is starting to get crushes on boys. That is pretty much the extent of what he knows about sexuality. I do my job as a parent and censor things in his life that may not be appropriate. I am not perverted and letting this boy dress up how he feels he wants to dress up is not perverted. It hurts no one. If you are offended, don’t look.
He is old enough and smart enough to know he would be marching in the Pride parade in front of thousands of people and did all of it willingly. In fact, I thought he would stop after 10 blocks of walking, but he felt so good about being dressed up and being who he is that he vogued and danced the entire two miles. We collaborated on the outfit and this is how he wanted to look today. This was his Pride today. He felt it. He loved it. He was it. These children will be our future. Embrace who they are. All they are asking for is the same love, respect, and acceptance of themselves as any child would.