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US Navy hires active-duty drag queen as face of recruitment drive

The US Navy invited an active-duty drag queen to be a “Digital Ambassador” – as a part of a latest drive “to draw essentially the most proficient and various workforce” and fight plunging recruitment.

Yeoman 2nd Class Joshua Kelley, who identifies as non-binary, was appointed the primary of 5 Navy Digital Ambassadors in a pilot program that ran from October to March.

Kelley, whose stage title is Harpy Daniels, has shared their journey on TikTok and Instagram, the place they described how they started performing onboard and have become an “advocate” for individuals who “had been oppressed for years within the service.”

“From becoming a member of in 2016 and having the ability to share my drag expertise on my off time with my fellow sailors has been a blessing,” Kelley wrote on Instagram in November when asserting their appointment as a digital ambassador to their greater than 8,000 followers.

“Thanks to the Navy for giving me this chance! I do not converse for the Navy however merely sharing my expertise within the Navy! Hooyah, and let’s go Slay!” they added.


US Navy sailor and drag queen Joshua Kelley, whose stage name is Harpy Daniels.
US Navy sailor and drag queen Joshua Kelley, whose stage title is Harpy Daniels, took half in a recruitment drive as a “Digital Ambassador.”
Instagram / @harpy_daniels

Yeoman 2nd Class Joshua Kelley dressed in drag in a green dress.
The social media influencers have shared their journey on TikTok and Instagram.
Instagram / @harpy_daniels

The “Digital Ambassador” program that Kelley took half in ran from October to March and was “designed to discover the digital setting to succeed in a variety of potential candidates” because the Navy battles “essentially the most difficult recruiting setting it has confronted because the begin of the all-volunteer pressure,” a Navy spokesperson advised Fox Information.

The service department is evaluating what kind this system, which incorporates 5 active-duty personnel, will take sooner or later, the rep added.

“The Navy didn’t compensate YN2 Kelley or any others for being Navy Digital Ambassadors,” the spokesperson additionally famous.


Joshua Kelley dressed in drag in a pink, blue and yellow dress.
“From becoming a member of in 2016 and having the ability to share my drag expertise on my off time with my fellow sailors it has been a blessing,” Kelley wrote on Instagram.
Instagram / @harpy_daniels

Joshua Kelley dressed in drag in a camouflage bodysuit.
Kelley took half within the “Digital Ambassador” program from October to March.
Instagram / @harpy_daniels

Kelley had advised Carl Herzog of the USS Structure Museum that they started dressing in drag and performing in reveals lengthy earlier than becoming a member of the Navy.

In 2017 and 2018, they carried out as Harpy in a crew morale-boosting lip sync competitors whereas on deployment on the plane provider USS Ronald Reagan.

“I began performing in drag in 2013. Drag had no affect with me becoming a member of. It was the Navy I feared that will’ve influenced me to cease doing drag,” Kelley advised Herzog.

“For myself, drag has been a ardour, an artwork, and a approach to specific myself. … Ship life is tough. Day-after-day fades into one, and excessive stress and depth can convey low morale and may trigger suicide and dangerous habits,” they stated.


Joshua Kelley in their navy uniform.
Kelley stated they started performing in drag in 2013 and joined the Navy in 2016.
Instagram / @harpy_daniels

Kelly stated that their efficiency on the Ronald Regan helped save somebody’s life.

“This individual was homosexual and felt misplaced and alone, prepared to leap ship. However after attending to see my efficiency, they really feel empowered to be themselves and see that our struggles and low morale are momentary,” the Yeoman 2nd Class stated.

“They personally thanked me and stated they forgot what life was like for a second. That is a battle all of us cope with throughout deployments and all of us have our causes to lose ourselves,” the sailor continued.


Joshua Kelley holding a sign reading
Kelley stated their aim is to “develop into the primary officer in my household.”
Instagram / @harpy_daniels

Requested what their plans had been, each as a drag queen and within the Navy, Kelly advised Herzog that their “aim as a sailor is to proceed working laborious, make first (class) and develop into the primary officer in my household.”

“As for drag, I hope to proceed performing, constructing secure areas for queer people, and someday make it on RuPaul’s Drag Race as one of many first lively service members,” they added.

The ambassador program was launched because the Navy is attempting to extend its dimension to 347,000 members in 2024, up from the present 341,736 serving in fiscal yr 2023, in line with the Navy Occasions.

It’s dedicated to recruiting and retaining personnel via fostering an inclusive tradition and guaranteeing they really feel “included and linked to mission and leaders in any respect ranges,” in line with the most recent variety, fairness and inclusion of coverage updates cited by the Day by day Caller.


Joshua Kelley in their Navy uniform.
The ambassador program was launched because the Navy is attempting to extend its dimension to 347,000 members in 2024.
Instagram / @harpy_daniels

On April 19, Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Lisa Franchetti advised the Home Armed Companies Committee that the Navy is projected to fall 6,000 recruits, or 16%, in need of its fiscal yr 2023 aim for enlisted sailors.

“To draw essentially the most proficient and various workforce, the Navy continues to judge its compensation package deal and admission necessities, and the way it reaches potential recruits via promoting and profession occasions,” in line with the Navy’s finances proposal for 2024, the outlet reported.

The ambassador program is one in every of a number of methods the Navy makes use of to succeed in numerous populations to beat what the spokesperson known as “essentially the most difficult recruiting setting because the begin of the all-volunteer pressure.”

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