The U.S. Navy acknowledged using a “drag queen influencer” to serve as one of their “digital ambassadors” on Wednesday in an effort to attract “a broad spectrum of possible candidates.”
The influencer is Joshua Kelley, a Yeoman 2nd Class in the U.S. Navy who is currently on active service and goes by the stage name “Harpy Daniels.”
Kelley participated in the Navy’s pilot ambassador plan from October 2022 through March 2023 as well as publicly danced as a drag queen for some time, but he gained more public exposure last week when a video of him spread on social media.
Kelley stated in a video on his feed on Instagram in November 2022 that the Navy had requested him to serve as their “first” “Navy Digital Ambassador.”
“I identify as a Non- Binary, and serving in the Navy has been an incredible experience,” he remarked in the video’s commentary.
“Since joining to 2016, having the opportunity to share my drag experiences with all the other sailors in my spare time has proved to be a blessing,” he concluded. “This experience has provided me with so much courage, strength, and ambition to keep advocating for and representing queer sailors!”
“Thank you to the Navy for allowing me this chance!” he said. “I am not speaking for the Navy; I am only sharing my Navy experience! And for now, let’s go Slay!”
Kelley stated that he initially did drag for other sailors at a lip sync concert during a deployment in the year 2018 and that the footage was shared on “international platforms.”
Kelley reacted to conservative talk show host Graham Allen’s criticism on Tuesday, saying, “There you go with my rebuddle sic.”
“Until 2011, gay people endured discrimination in the military for many years, and trans people from 2021. You only wish to stand by the military when it helps you and has nothing to do with gay people. Despite this, the military is the most diverse and flexible organization in the world.”
In a statement, a Navy spokesman said:
“As the Navy navigates the most difficult recruitment climate it has encountered since the beginnings of the all-volunteer service, the Navy Digital Ambassador Program was a pilot program aimed to study the digital world to reach a wide spectrum of potential applicants.”
“The initiative is being evaluated and its future is being discussed,” she continued, “noting that the pilot has come to an end.”
According to a Navy official, the service didn’t compensate YN2 Kelley or any other Navy Digital Ambassadors.
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