The US Navy invited an active-duty drag queen to be a “Digital Ambassador” – as part of a recent drive “to attract the most talented and diverse workforce” and combat plunging recruitment.
Yeoman 2nd Class Joshua Kelley, who identifies as non-binary, was appointed as the first of five Navy Digital Ambassadors in a pilot program that ran from October to March.
Kelley, whose stage name is Harpy Daniels, has shared their journey on TikTok and Instagram, where they described how they began performing onboard and became an “advocate” for people who “were oppressed for years in the service.”
“From joining to 2016 and being able to share my drag experience on my off time with my fellow sailors has been a blessing,” Kelley wrote on Instagram in November when announcing their appointment as a digital ambassador to their more than 8,000 followers.
“Thank you to the Navy for giving me this opportunity! I don’t speak for the Navy but simply sharing my experience in the Navy! Hooyah, and let’s go Slay!” they added.
The “Digital Ambassador” program that Kelley took part in ran from October to March and was “designed to explore the digital environment to reach a wide range of potential candidates” as the Navy battles “the most challenging recruiting environment it has faced since the start of the all-volunteer force,” a Navy spokesperson told Fox News.
The service branch is evaluating what form the program, which included five active-duty personnel, will take in the future, the rep added.
“The Navy did not compensate YN2 Kelley or any others for being Navy Digital Ambassadors,” the spokesperson also noted.
Kelley has told Carl Herzog of the USS Constitution Museum that they began dressing in drag and performing in shows long before joining the Navy.
In 2017 and 2018, they performed as Harpy in a crew morale-boosting lip sync competition while on deployment on the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan.
“I started performing in drag in 2013. Drag had no influence with me joining. It was the Navy I feared that would’ve influenced me to stop doing drag,” Kelley told Herzog.
“For myself, drag has been a passion, an art, and a way to express myself. … Ship life is difficult. Every day fades into one, and high stress and intensity can bring low morale and can cause suicide and bad behavior,” they said.
Kelly said that their performance on the Ronald Regan helped save someone’s life.
“This person was gay and felt lost and alone, ready to jump ship. But after getting to view my performance, they felt empowered to be themselves and see that our struggles and low morale are temporary,” the Yeoman 2nd Class said.
“They personally thanked me and said they forgot what life was like for a moment. That’s a struggle we all deal with during deployments and we all have our reasons to lose ourselves,” the sailor continued.
Asked what their plans are, both as a drag queen and in the Navy, Kelly told Herzog that their “goals as a sailor are to continue working hard, make first (class) and become the first officer in my family.”
“As for drag, I hope to continue performing, building safe spaces for queer individuals, and one day make it on RuPaul’s Drag Race as one of the first active service members,” they added.
The ambassador program was launched as the Navy is trying to boost its size to 347,000 members in 2024, up from the current 341,736 serving in fiscal year 2023, according to the Navy Times.
It committed to recruit and retain personnel through fostering an inclusive culture and ensuring they feel “included and connected to mission and leaders at all levels,” according to the latest diversity, equity and inclusion policy updates cited by the Daily Caller.
On April 19, Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Lisa Franchetti told the House Armed Services Committee that the Navy is projected to fall 6,000 recruits, or 16%, short of its fiscal year 2023 goal for enlisted sailors.
“To attract the most talented and diverse workforce, the Navy continues to evaluate its compensation package and admission requirements, and how it reaches potential recruits through advertising and career events,” according to the Navy’s budget proposal for 2024, the outlet reported.
The ambassador program is one of several ways the Navy uses to reach various populations to overcome what the spokesperson called “the most challenging recruiting environment since the start of the all-volunteer force.”
It’s nothing new for the navy to have a number of homosexuals serving,back in the 50,s if the navy caught the sucker and the suckee,both were thrown out, but now with the long time at sea they serve a purpose.
Disappointed with this!!!
always were fags
We’re in serious trouble!