The US Navy enlisted an active-duty sailor who performs in drag to be part of its new “digital ambassador” program to attract a “diverse workforce” as part of its effort to boost sagging recruitment, the New York Post reported on Wednesday.
Joshua Kelley, a Yoeman 2nd Class whose drag persona is known as Harpy Daniels, was one of five of the Navy’s Digital Ambassadors for the pilot program that ran from October 2022 until March of this year.
In an Instagram post in November, Kelly announced his role, saying that he has been blessed to share his “drag experience” with his “fellow sailors” since enlisting in 2016.
Kelley often uses social media to share his journey from giving drag performances on board to becoming an “advocate” for those who have been “oppressed for years in the service.”
In one Instagram post, Kelley said his journey brought him “strength,” “ambition,” and “courage” to continue representing and being an advocate for “queer sailors.”
Last month, the vice chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Lisa Franchetti, told the House Armed Services Committee in written testimony that the Navy’s recruitment for this fiscal year is projected to miss its goal of 37,700 by 8,000 recruits. Likewise, the Navy Reserve is projected to fall short of its recruiting goal of 10,330 by 3,000.
Adm. Franchetti said the Navy is “using all available levers” to increase recruitment “while maintaining our standards.”
The goal of the Navy’s Digital Ambassador pilot program was to use social media “to reach a wide range of potential candidates” as it struggles with the current recruiting shortfall, a Navy spokesperson told Fox News.
The spokesperson told Fox that digital ambassadors were not compensated for their participation in the pilot program.
According to a recent poll from the Heritage Foundation, 65 percent of active-duty service members are concerned about the politicization of the US military.