Earlier this week, there was a story about a 10-year-old boy named Desmond Napoles from Brooklyn who has apparently become an Internet sensation and societal hero for being the first child to found what he’s calling “a drag club for kids.” And, as you might’ve guessed, he’s not referring to street racing. I wish he was.
First, a little history: Desmond — known more commonly by his drag queen moniker “Desmond is Amazing” — started dressing up as a toddler and by age six he was romping around in princess outfits, skirts and high heels. His concerned parents consulted with a therapist, who naturally told them that the best thing they could do was nothing at all. To Hell with it. Just let the boy wear whatever he wants. So, that’s what they did. In June of 2015, he participated in a Gay Pride event in New York City while wearing a rainbow tutu. Of course, this was all followed up by establishing Desmond’s own Facebook fan community page (because that’s what every 10-year-old child really needs, right?) At last check, he had over 4,000 followers there. On Instagram, he's climbed to over 16,000 followers. A warning that the photos are little disturbing.
As an active and notable member of the LGBTQ community, Desmond now says that his goal is to “inspire other young people and promote anti-bullying and suicide prevention.” His club is already being widely publicized as a “positive, encouraging and safe online community for drag kids to connect with one another.”
On his site, Desmond — who describes himself as gay — writes, “People should just be able to dance, sing, or dress in any way. You can express yourself however you want. You can just do you.”
Whoa. Totally mind-blowing stuff. I mean, this is truly profound philosophical insight coming from a 10-year-old, right? Or maybe not. Maybe “Just Do You” is actually the sort of slogan that one would expect to see plastered on a McDonald’s billboard or scrawled on the side of a Nike shoebox. Either way, it’s not something that should be proudly touted by an emotionally and mentally disturbed child who's struggling with the reality of his sexual identity.
As I read his story, my heart broke for Desmond. He’s being psychologically, emotionally, and spiritually abused by his parents and he doesn’t even realize it. How could he? He’s 10-years-old for God’s sake. And his parents believe they’re just letting him be himself.
Anyway, I know what the initial reactions will be from many people. I can already predict the typical responses, excuses and justifications that will be made, even by many parents who follow my work: Why are you bringing this up? It’s not a big deal. This is normal. It’s just kids being kids. This isn’t anything new. Kids and teens have always had their own culture and lifestyles and language. They’re not hurting anyone, so what’s the problem? That’s how it’s been for decades. They’ve always been a little rebellious. This is just how they express themselves. It’s always been like this. Everything will turn out fine. They’ll grow out of it.
Call me crazy, ignorant or even bigoted, but the truth is that it hasn’t always been this way. Believe it or not, there really was a time — a cultural Stone Age — when our society didn’t indoctrinate little boys into thinking that it was acceptable to wear eyeliner, nail polish, lipstick, dresses and high heels. There was a time when the vast majority of parents protected their young children from the dangerous effects of the entertainment world, the Internet, technology and social media. There was a time when boys were boys and girls were girls. There was a time when being “a little rebellious” just meant faking a cough so that you could stay home from school. There was a time when boys and girls couldn’t wait to play outside, rather than sit at home and absorb online content for endless hours like mindless automatons.
Today, kids are so glued to their smartphones, so immersed in social media and TV and so consumed by unrestricted, unmonitored Internet access that they’re utterly oblivious to the world around them. They spend hours and hours texting, Facebooking, Tweeting, Instagramming, Snapchatting and watching YouTube videos. By the time they’re 11, they’ve already discovered pornography. So is it really that shocking when your 10-year-old suddenly declares himself to be gay? Or transgendered? Or queer? Or a drag queen? Honestly, he might not even know what those words mean. He probably won't. But, that doesn’t matter, least of all to him. He’s been influenced for months or years by countless websites, YouTube celebrities, porn stars and social media personalities that you didn’t even know existed. And he’s been told that he can be whatever or whoever he wants, whenever he wants — “Just do you.”
And as the parent, you facilitated it. You bought the smartphone (or iPod or iPad or TV or whatever) and handed it to your naive, immature, child without ever establishing any rules, regulations, boundaries, passwords or filters. You opened up the world of the Internet or late-night cable TV smut and just assumed that everything would be totally fine.
But, it’s not fine. Our children have to realize that you can’t “just do you” and expect to succeed in life or be safe. It doesn’t work that way. And that’s because you aren’t wise enough, mature enough or virtuous enough on your own, especially at 10-years-old. You have this thing inside of you called a sin nature (it's been with you since birth - Psalm 51:5) and it will always lead you toward rebellious, wrong, immoral, dangerous, harmful choices. If you aren’t careful, you can hurt yourself and those around you.
Parents must instill these truths in their children from an early age and then teach them how to make wise, moral and biblical decisions in life. Of course, no child will be perfect. They will mess up. They will make mistakes. They will stumble and falter along the way. And when they do, parents have a responsibility to correct them, encourage them, discipline them when necessary, and ensure that they remain on the straight and narrow. (Proverbs 22:6) At 31-years-old, I’m certainly grateful that my parents did this for me.
It may be too late to change the destructive mentality of our depraved culture, but we can certainly take steps to minimize our kids’ exposure to it. And wouldn’t that at least be a step in the right direction?