By Desmond Napoles
As a child, I was a creative soul who loved nothing more than whipping up costumes from everyday household items. From sparkly and frilly to feminine and fun, I found joy in experimenting with different looks and styles.
It wasn’t until I discovered RuPaul’s Drag Race that I realized my true passion: DRAG. This art form allowed me to explore and express myself in a way that felt authentic and true to who I am. Through experimenting with different styles and looks, I was able to discover my gender identity as a genderfluid person. Drag is not just a hobby for me, it’s a significant aspect of my existence. It serves as a powerful tool for self-expression and a way for me to fully embrace my unique self. It makes me feel absolutely fabulous!
So it’s understandable why I’d be so upset but the recent attacks on drag queens and Drag Queen Story Time (DQST) events. DQST is a program in which drag queens read books to children in libraries and schools. The events aim to promote literacy and inclusivity, but some groups have criticized them as inappropriate for children.
DQST is a positive and empowering experience for both children and drag queens. The events offer kids, especially LGBTQ+ and questioning youth, role models who challenge gender stereotypes, and they also give drag queens an opportunity to connect with and inspire young people.
Watching folks attempt to take away something that is seen as positive and fun is maddening. Drag has been so important in my own life, and events like these promote acceptance, tolerance and understanding. Taking them away would be a step away from progress and equality. It is important to support and defend programs that promote inclusivity and acceptance, especially for marginalized communities.
That’s why I wanted to write this article. Because despite the attacks on DQST events and the attempts to take away the art of drag, it is important for young people to be able to experiment with this form of self-expression. Drag is a powerful tool for challenging societal norms, building self-confidence, and exploring different aspects of identity.
So in the spirit of keeping the fun of drag alive for young people, here is some advice for young people wanting to experiment with the art of drag.
- Start slow: Drag can be a big commitment, so take it easy and work your way up. Experiment with makeup and clothes before investing in a full drag ensemble.
- Build your confidence: If you’re new to drag, it’s important to start small and hone your skills and confidence over time. Try experimenting with makeup and costumes at home before taking the stage.
- Be true to yourself: Drag is all about expressing yourself, so don’t try to copy someone else’s style or persona. Be unique and show off your own personality, but don’t be afraid to try new things.
- Respect others: Drag is a form of self-expression, but it is also about inclusivity and acceptance. While drag can sometimes utilize parody, be respectful of others and their own expressiveness. Don’t use drag to make fun of or mock anyone’s person.
- Get permission: If you’re under 18, make sure you have permission from a parent or a trusted adult before you start doing drag. Explain to them what drag is and why you want to do it. It’s also important to have an adult present during any drag performances.
- Safety first: Drag can be a lot of fun, but it’s important to be safe. Make sure that you’re using safe and non-toxic makeup and costumes, and always be aware of your surroundings.
- Drag is for everyone: Drag is not limited to cisgender males. Anyone can do drag. It’s important to understand that there are different types of drag and that drag is not just about playing with gender roles. It also encompasses performance art, comedy and storytelling.
- Get schooled in drag history: Drag has a rich history and culture, so take the time to learn about the pioneers and trailblazers who have shaped it into what it is today.
- Learn from others: There are many drag performers and artists who have a wealth of knowledge and experience to share. Look for drag shows or workshops in your community and take the time to learn from more experienced drag performers.
- Have a blast! Drag is all about having fun and expressing yourself, so don’t take it too seriously. Whether you’re performing on stage or experimenting with drag at home, the most important thing is to enjoy the experience and express yourself in a way that feels authentic to you.
Drag isn’t just about putting on a dress and heels. As a young drag artist, you’re not only entertaining and inspiring others, but by expressing yourself, you’re also paving the way for future generations of drag performers. Drag challenges societal norms and breaks down barriers. It’s a vital form of political and cultural expression.
Let drag empower you to find your voice, share your story, and build confidence in yourself. Let it serve as a form of resistance against discrimination and marginalization.
So, put on those heels, let your wig down, and let the world see the true you!
– Desmond Napoles is a teenager who is changing the world. They are a multi-awarded LGBTQ+ advocate, genderfluid editorial and runway model, motivational public speaker, performer, clothing designer, actor, singer, host, social media influencer and published author. Desmond has been featured in major outlets such as The New York Times, NBC News, Teen Vogue, OUT Magazine, among many others. They use their voice and visibility to help break down barriers and create a more inclusive society for LGBTQ+ people everywhere.