While geopolitical tensions flare with foreign adversaries such as Russia and China and the prospect of a third world war is on the horizon, the United States military faces a recruiting crisis. The U.S. Navy is now convinced the answer to building an army of the world’s most formidable sailors is by utilizing drag queens as “digital ambassadors.”
An active member of the U.S. Navy turned drag queen influencer, Joshua Kelly served as part of a Navy pilot ambassador program between October 2022 to March 2023 designed to improve recruiting among Gen Z. Kelly goes by the stage name “Harpy Daniels” and recently garnered social media attention when a video of the sailor went viral.
Twitter user I Meme Therefore I Am tweeted, “The Navy brought a drag queen ‘Harpy Daniels,’ who is an active duty sailor, to participate in a pilot program to target a wider array of potential recruits through digital platforms. China and Russia are laughing their asses off right now.”
The Navy brought a drag queen 'Harpy Daniels' who is an active duty sailor to participate in a pilot program aimed at targeting a wider array of potential recruits through digital platforms.
China and Russia are laughing their asses off right now. pic.twitter.com/o00x5SYiVc
— I Meme Therefore I Am 🇺🇸 (@ImMeme0) May 2, 2023
Kelly said, “I identify as Non- Binary and this has been an unbelievable experience since I’ve joined the Navy.” Kelly continued, “From joining to 2016 and being able to share my drag experience on my off time with my fellow sailors has been a blessing. This experience has brought me so much strength, courage and ambition to continue being an advocate and representation of queer sailors!”
Kelly responded to criticism stating, “Here you go for my rebuddle [sic]. Queer ppl were oppressed in the military for years only until 2011 and trans people since 2021. You only want to support the military when it benefits you and doesn’t involve queer people. Yet the military is the largest diverse, and adaptable organization in the use [sic].”
According to a statement from the Navy:
The Navy Digital Ambassador Program was a pilot initiative designed to explore the digital environment to reach a wide range of potential candidates as the Navy navigates the most challenging recruiting environment it has faced since the start of the all-volunteer force.
Lt. Ian Clark and PO Third Class Kyle Atkinson wrote in the US Naval Institute Journal on the need for diversity in the Navy’s recruiting:
“An effort is, indeed, being made to connect recruiting to the interests and concerns of Gen-Z. For instance, the Navy’s primary recruiting website includes important and prominent sections on the Navy’s diversity and inclusion efforts as well as practical career matters. The website is highly transparent, for example, about pay expectations—it even offers a remarkably straightforward pay chart. Absent, however, is the foundational question: why? For a generation that so urgently wishes to connect its efforts with tangible causes, the Navy is leaving them wondering what, exactly, is that cause.”
The Navy has been running advertisements tailored to Gen Z viewers across social media platforms like Instagram. However, it is reported that only 2 percent of America’s youth meet the qualifications to join the navy and are also open to serving. The U.S. Navy, and overall military for that matter, are desperately trying to solve this recruiting crisis.
"*" indicates required fields