(EDGE) Original Drag Kid Desmond is Amazing is only 11 years old, but that has hardly shielded him from the online taunts and slurs of right-wing trolls who sandwich expressions of concern for his well-being between frequent attacks on him and his family.
The latest volley may have gone too far, though, with more than 200 baseless claims being submitted to New York's Administration for Child Services, reports Yahoo! News.
The trolls centered their complaints around a drag performance that Desmond put on at a gay bar in Brooklyn. Desmond has been a performer for much of his young life, and his parents say they are simply allowing him to pursue his theatrical passion; but trolls seized on the venue and photos of the 11-year-old accepting gratuities, twisting the narrative into an overheated morass of child porn and pedophiles, a murky portrait of perversion that may have originated in the minds of Desmond's critics but bore little resemblance to reality.
A post at Desmon's Instagram took the fabricated controversy by the horns.
"Why the scandal?" the post read. "Well, shortly after this performance, the Conservative media went on a bender, claiming that Desmond was stripping, dancing on a pole, moving in a sexual manner, seducing pedophiles, hanging out in a bar around alcohol, was half naked, and gyrating for money. He was coined the Bacha Bazi of Brooklyn."
The post refuted those prurient palpitations, however, by including video taken of the performance in question.
View this post on Instagram
@desmondisamazing performing as @gwenstefani. Song is "Just a Girl" by No Doubt . . Here it is! The performance that broke the internet in December 2018! This is THE infamous BROOKLYN performance . . Why the scandal? Well, shortly after this performance, the Conservative media went on a bender, claiming that Desmond was stripping, dancing on a pole, moving in a sexual manner, seducing pedophiles, hanging out in a bar around alcohol, was half naked, and gyrating for money. He was coined the Bacha Bazi of Brooklyn . . So, let's take a look at this performance, shall we? First of all, stripping is the act of making bare. There is NO clothing removed in this performance. The only thing that was removed was a Barbie's head, which was thrown into the audience. Secondly, I don't see a stripper pole, do you? . . Next, if you look at this and see a child moving in a sexual manner, you might have issues. Seriously. Desmond is clearly enjoying his performance and is jumping around like any 11-year old on stage. Desmond obviously loves what he does and is proud of his impersonations. He is a professional, licensed child performer . . Pedophiles? I think you'd have better luck finding them in your churches, sports leagues, and summer camps . . The venue where Desmond performed did have a bar in a separate room. However, Desmond was only allowed back stage in his private dressing room and on stage. He never entered the bar area. It is not illegal for minors in NYC to be in or perform in venues that serve alcohol if they are with a guardian over 21 years old. Mom and Dad were both there to supervise . . Half-naked? Desmond is fully clothed and wearing more clothes than boys allowed to run around shirtless at the beach or even girls at a gymnastics or dance performance. Hypocrisy . . Yes, the audience is giving Desmond money. This is customary for drag performances and some performers make a living on tips alone. It has nothing to do with the way he moved his body . . Lastly, it was reported that there was a "no cell phone policy". False. Clearly, this video was recorded on a cell phone, thus the quality . . Full video on my IG TV and YouTube
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"So, let's take a look at this performance, shall we?" the post continued. "First of all, stripping is the act of making bare. There is NO clothing removed in this performance. The only thing that was removed was a Barbie's head, which was thrown into the audience. Secondly, I don't see a stripper pole, do you?
"Next, if you look at this and see a child moving in a sexual manner, you might have issues," the post points out. "Seriously. Desmond is clearly enjoying his performance and is jumping around like any 11-year old on stage. Desmond obviously loves what he does and is proud of his impersonations. He is a professional, licensed child performer."
Such facts hardly deterred the trolls, who flooded ACS with bogus reports, prompting months of daily investigations.
"ACS was here unannounced, announced, every single day," recalled Desmond's mother, Wendy, according to the Yahoo! News report. "They would come at all hours."
Added Wendy, "They would come at 3 in the morning even on school nights. They would visit Desmond at his school several times a week and pull him out of class. His grades went down, he thought it was embarrassing, he just started middle school. It's just been a really horrible experience."
LGBTQ kids are frequently bullied in middle school, but rarely by a mob of adults. Desmond's family sought refuge in the safest place they could — the bright light of day. Posting at Instagram once more, his family attested that, "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."
The post added the horrifying details that, "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 situation grew so extreme, the post noted, that "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."
The ACS cleared Desmond's family of any wrongdoing, the report said, labeling as "unfounded" the false accusations the family endured. "This means that CPS did not find believable proof (credible evidence) that a child was abused or maltreated," the ACS determined.
Though the vicious attacks left Desmond "traumatized" and feeling "bad about the stress our family is under," according to Wendy, the amazing youth has continued to stand up for the LGBTQ youth like himself for whom he is a passionate advocate.
"It's just so important to him to help these people, and it's really great that he realizes that responsibility that he's taken on at his age. So he doesn't want to take a break," Wendy told the media, adding, "I would say that his advocacy work is probably more important to him than doing drag."
This is hardly the first time trolls have targeted Desmond and his family. Last fall conservative sites went after him for his participation in a protest of lax gun laws that facilitate mass shootings at schools and other public places.
In a Facebook post, Desmond put up photos of a satirical show against suggestions that school kids arm themselves or use special backpacks as shields in the event of a school shooting. Children at the show wore different gear, including battle helmets. "Take a good hard look," Desmond wrote. "Are these the clothes kids are going to have to wear to school?"
Conservatives instantly opened fire with a barrage of negative and demeaning comments that mocked Desmond for his clothing and advocacy.
Characterizing Desmond's post as an attempt to "Take Away Your Guns" — the standard rhetoric from pro-gun extremists any time advocates for sensible firearms regulations speak out — right-wing site Red State went straight to personal insults, some of which went wide of the mark.
"Just in case you're wonderin', he ain't straight," the post pointed out, after making a snide inference about the ways in which Desmond "likes" RuPaul. Declaring Desmond to have involved himself in "anti-gun radicalism," the site then excoriated the 11-year-old for his celebrated fashion sense.
"[S]ometimes it isn't enough to slap on some rouge, top yourself with a daffodil wig, and pull on a pleather polka-dotted sequined v-neck tapered blousy netted metallic backless cocktail dress," the Red State post sneered; "sometimes ya gotta rage against the 2nd Amendment."
Desmond took the ugliness in stride and rose above it.
"This Conservative website, Red State, did an article about me," he wrote in an Instagram post. "They meant to make me look like a fool and hurt and embarrass my family. They tried to make me look crazy for protesting against gun violence in schools with @changetheref and @gaysagainstgunsny
"But really, they made me look even more AMAZING," Desmond continued, "even going so far as to emphasize that I've earned awards for my work in the LGBTQ+ community, that my career started in 2014 with @thejinkx, and that I created the term 'drag kid'. I mean, they ain't lying! I've done ALL of those things and I'm grateful for the recognition."
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