OAN Geraldyn Berry
UPDATED 4:50 PM – Wednesday, May 3, 2023
The United States Navy came under fire on Wednesday for using a “drag queen influencer” to help assist attracting new members of the armed forces in the midst of a severe recruiting crisis.
Yeoman 2nd Class Joshua Kelley, who goes by the stage name “Harpy Daniels” and identifies as non-binary, was revealed to be a “Digital Ambassador” in the Navy’s test initiative to draw in freshmen.
“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!” Kelley wrote.
Former U.S. military personnel, as well as MPs, have responded to the news in a fiery manner.
Representative Jim Banks (R-Ind.), chair of the House Military Personnel Subcommittee, expressed his disapproval and said that “woke” officials are “projecting weakness abroad and divisiveness at home.”
“The recruitment shortage is a serious crisis that we must address with serious solutions. TikTok videos of drag queens are just making a bad problem worse,” Banks said.
Sources say that in March, the congressman had contacted the Navy over Kelley’s story, but did not hear back from the service on its usage of the drag queen until recently.
In a tweet, former Navy SEAL Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) sarcastically insinuated that the military branch should collaborate with Anheuser-Busch who had recently came under fire for using transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney.
Former Republican Senate candidate and combat veteran Sean Parnell, claimed that “woke BS is destroying [the] military.”
Kelley’s Instagram bio displayed that the Navy sailor’s views “are not endorsed by DoD or DoN.” In sharing one video from 2018, the drag performer has claimed to have danced in drag for service officers on numerous occasions.
“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.
From October 2022 through March 2023, Kelley took part in the Navy’s Digital Ambassador program, which was “designed to explore the digital environment to reach a wide range of potential candidates,” a Navy spokesperson said. The official added that this was due to the Navy currently dealing with “the most difficult recruiting environment it has encountered since the start of the all-volunteer force.”
The spokesperson also clarified that “the Navy did not compensate YN2 Kelley or any others for being Navy Digital Ambassadors.”
According to the Navy Times, 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.
“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 2024 budget proposal.
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