Lawmakers and former military personnel have criticized the U.S. Navy for enlisting a “drag queen influencer” named Yeoman 2nd Class Joshua Kelley, also known as “Harpy Daniels,” to assist with recruitment efforts. Kelley, who identifies as non-binary, served as a “Digital Ambassador” as part of a Navy initiative to attract potential recruits.
The Navy’s decision to use a drag queen to assist in recruiting new members has led to strong negative reactions, with critics expressing their disapproval. Representative Jim Banks, who leads the House Military Personnel Subcommittee, stated that using TikTok videos of drag queens is not a viable solution to the serious recruitment crisis and that such actions project weakness abroad and cause division at home.
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The Navy’s decision has disappointed and frustrated other politicians and ex-military members. Rep. Dan Crenshaw, a former Navy SEAL and Republican from Texas took to social media to express his disappointment, suggesting that the Navy should learn from Bud Light’s marketing controversy. Sean Parnell, a combat veteran and former Republican Senate candidate, criticized the Navy’s use of a drag queen in their recruitment campaign blaming “woke BS” for damaging the military’s reputation. Hung Cao, a Navy veteran, and former Republican congressional candidate, expressed being speechless about the matter.
Kelley, a drag queen, has stated on their Instagram bio that their opinions are not supported by the Department of Defense (DoD) or the Department of the Navy (DoN). However, they claim to have performed in drag for service officers on multiple occasions and have shared a video of such a performance from 2018.
Navy spokesperson who spoke to Fox News Digital, Kelley participated in the Digital Ambassador initiative which took place from October 2022 to March 2023. The initiative aimed to explore the use of digital platforms to reach a wider range of potential candidates. The Navy is currently experiencing its toughest recruiting environment since the establishment of the all-volunteer force, the spokesperson added.
A recent study indicates that just 13% of young Americans are very eager to enlist in the military, which has caused worries about the military’s capability to achieve its recruitment targets. The Navy’s decision to employ a drag queen influencer to promote recruitment has triggered disagreement and discussion, with some objecting that more practical approaches are needed to tackle the recruitment crisis.