A retired U.S. Navy officer has come out in defense of the Navy’s use of a drag queen influencer to boost recruitment, saying the move should be “applauded.”
Retired Navy Commander Julianna Vida, who serves on the Naval Academy’s Alumni Association Board of Trustees, told Fox News Digital that the service branch’s use of Yeoman 2nd Class Joshua Kelley as a “digital ambassador” is a “critical” method of making “traditionally excluded segments of our population” feel welcome.
An active-duty enlisted sailor, Kelley goes by the stage name “Harpy Daniels” and says he has performed for fellow sailors in drag while deployed.
“It’s more than just diversity. We are taught ethics… how to do my job, how to lead my sailors. I’ve been on three deployments,” Kelley told NewsNation. “I have credit where credit is due. I’m proud to serve and I’m proud for the stuff that I’ve done within the military.”
Kelley told the television network that every branch of the military has drag queens.
“Every branch has drag queens, has LGBTQ+ members, and if anything, drag itself should be nothing new for anyone who’s served,” he said.
“My job is to just continue doing what I’m doing,” he said, and to serve as “an openly queer sailor.”
A Navy spokesperson told Fox that the digital ambassador initiative Kelley participated in ran from October, 2022, to March, 2023, and was “designed to explore the digital environment to reach a wide range of potential candidates.” The reason for the campaign was that the Navy is dealing with “the most challenging recruiting environment it has faced since the start of the all-volunteer force,” the spokesperson added.
Vida said using Kelley to address the recruiting challenge should be “applauded and supported” and blasted Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., for criticizing the tactic.
In a recent Wall Street Journal opinion piece, Tuberville castigated the Pentagon for focusing on “woke identity politics” while China accelerates its military buildup.
Calling the senator’s criticism a “trope” that really only plays well “to a socially conservative base,” Vida told Fox that the Navy is just trying to appeal “to all people in a society who are willing and able to volunteer their lives to the service of the nation.”
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“His criticism is destructive and undermines the services’ ability to address the known challenges of military recruiting,” she said. “In my opinion his comments reflect a political or social agenda designed to instigate and undermine instead of inform or inspire confidence in our armed forces.”
Retired Navy SEAL Robert O’Neill, who killed former al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, told Newsmax on Monday that “we need pipe hitters, not pole dancers,” in the military. In military slang, “pipe hitters” refers to Special Ops forces such as the SEALs.
“We just need the best of the best,” O’Neill said. “That’s equal opportunity to get in the military. But once you get there, you don’t need to be expressing yourself. You join the military — whatever branch — they put you in uniform, including your haircut, and then you’re part of a team.
“You don’t need to go in there and try to show off, especially like this,” he continued, “because … forward defense and deterrence … that’s our pillars. And there’s no deterrence when we have a drag queen on a Chinese espionage platform. They’re laughing at us.”
From Newsmax and NewsNation