The United States Navy has recently made an effort to attract more diverse and talented personnel, in order to combat the declining recruitment numbers. As part of this effort, the Navy invited Yeoman 2nd Class Joshua Kelley – an active-duty drag queen who identifies as non-binary – to be one of its five Digital Ambassadors in a pilot program.
Kelley, who performs under the stage name Harpy Daniels, has used his TikTok and Instagram accounts to document his journey in the Navy and encourage others to pursue their passions. He expressed his gratitude to the Navy for the opportunity to serve as a Digital Ambassador and his hope that it would help expand the Navy’s reach and create a safe space for people who had previously been oppressed in the service.
The Digital Ambassador program ran from October to March, and the Navy is currently evaluating what form the program will take in the future. Kelley was not compensated for his service as an ambassador, and he has made it clear that he does not speak for the Navy, but is simply sharing his experiences in the Navy.
The Navy is facing one of the most challenging recruiting environments since the start of the all-volunteer force and is thus attempting to boost its size to 347,000 members in 2024. To do this, the Navy has committed to recruiting and retaining personnel by fostering an inclusive culture and ensuring those who join feel included and connected to the mission and leaders at all levels.
Kelley’s experience as a Digital Ambassador is part of the Navy’s effort to use digital media to reach a wider range of potential candidates. He has expressed his hopes to continue performing and building safe spaces for queer individuals, and one day make it on RuPaul’s Drag Race as one of the first active service members.
There has been controversy surrounding this decision by our country’s Navy with some saying,
Meet Drag Queen Harpy Daniels, the new face of the U.S. Navy. They picked the non-binary Daniels to help recruit cadets. So now Harpy is the Navy’s new Dylan. Dylan killed Bud Light Sales… what do you think’s going to happen to Navy recruitment?
Former Lieutenant Colonel… pic.twitter.com/UIELMXYbQt
— Jesse Watters (@JesseBWatters) May 4, 2023
The U.S. Navy hired an active-duty drag queen to be the face of their recruitment drive.
Oh yes, let’s terrify our enemies by filling the military with cross-dressers. China is definitely looking at this and saying, “We can’t mess with these guys and girls and theys and thems.” pic.twitter.com/Ma1YXkWxL9
— The Matt Walsh Show (@MattWalshShow) May 3, 2023