Wednesday, June 7, 2023
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Navy Uses Drag Queen to Boost Recruitment

'Ship life is difficult... '

(Headline USA) The U.S. Navy invited an active-duty soldier who performs as a drag queen to be a “digital ambassador” and help the military branch “attract the most talented and diverse workforce” amidst plunging recruitment.

Yeoman 2nd Class Joshua Kelley, who identifies as non-binary, was appointed this week as the first of five “Navy digital ambassadors,” according to reports. 

Kelley performs as a drag queen part-time and goes by the stage name Harpy Daniels. He claimed on social media that he sees drag as a way to “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 in a November 2022 Instagram post. “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 said he worried the Navy would prevent him from performing drag when he first joined the military.

“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 said. “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.”

Kelley then claimed his drag performance saved another soldier’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,” he said.

The Navy’s “digital ambassador” program ran from October 2022 to March 2023 and was “designed to explore the digital environment to reach a wide range of potential candidates” as the Navy battles the “most challenging recruitment environment it has faced since the start of the all-volunteer force,” a Navy spokesperson said in a statement.

“The Navy did not compensate YN2 Kelley or any others for being Navy Digital Ambassadors,” the spokesperson also noted.

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