Navy Hires Active Duty Drag Queen To Combat Sinking Recruitment

The "non-binary" sailor's drag name is "Harpy Daniels."
WASHINGTON - DECEMBER 7: U.S. Navy sailors form a ceremonial guard at a wreath-laying ceremony to memorialize the victims of the attack on Pearl Harbor and pay tribute to the veterans of World War II in front of the Lone Sailor statue at the Naval Memorial December 7, 2003 in Washington, DC. Ceremonies are planned across the country to honor the 62nd anniversary of the attack by Japanese forces on the U.S. Naval base at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images)
Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images

The U.S. Navy hired an active-duty sailor and drag queen to be the face of the Navy’s campaign to fight dropping recruitment.

Yeoman 2nd Class Joshua Kelley, 29, who identifies as non-binary, became one of five Navy Digital Ambassadors in a pilot recruitment program that lasted from October to March.

Kelley’s drag queen name is “Harpy Daniels.”

“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 on Instagram in November when he announced his Digital Ambassador appointment.

“This experience has brought me so much strength, courage and ambition to continue being an advocate and representation of queer sailors!” he told his more than 8,000 followers. “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!”

In his Instagram video, Kelley said he is “being the representation of people who were oppressed for years in the service.”

The Navy recruitment campaign in which Kelley participated was “designed to explore the digital environment to reach a wide range of potential candidates,” a Navy spokesperson told The Daily Caller.


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

The campaign ended in April, and the Navy is now deciding what the program will look like in the future, the spokesperson said.

Navy recruitment is plummeting despite the military branch’s attempts to recruit more Gen Z sailors.

The Navy is hoping to recruit more than 5,000 more officers and enlisted sailors in 2024, which would bump the branch from fewer than 342,000 up to 347,000 sailors.

The service had to dip into its delayed-entry pool of applicants in order to make its recruiting goals last year.

This year, the Navy is expected to recruit 6,000 fewer recruits than its target, according to Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Lisa Franchetti’s testimony to House lawmakers last month.

Kelley served as an administrative supervisor aboard the aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan, where he has performed in drag for his fellow sailors.

He entered the lip sync competitions put on by the Navy’s Morale, Welfare and Recreation department, Kelley said. After he made it to the lip sync competition’s finals, he asked to perform every night, he said. Kelley also noted that he won second place in the competition and was awarded a $1,000 Navy Exchange gift card.

Kelley’s videos on Instagram and TikTok show him dressed in drag queen makeup, wigs, and various colorful drag costumes.

He previously told the Navy Times that he joined the Navy in 2016, partly inspired by his father, a 24-year senior chief Navy counselor.

Before joining the service, drag performing was not paying well for him, he told the outlet.

“With drag being my number one passion, it quickly became costly,” Kelley said. “On top of just struggling to make ends meet and then pay college loans, the Navy became a great option to get myself situated in life.”

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