(NewsReady.com) – Enlisted sailors usually don’t speak officially on behalf of the Navy. Yet last week, Yeoman 2nd Class Joshua Kelley—social media maven, drag queen performer, and non-binary service member who uses they/them pronouns—spoke with Leland Vittert of News Nation. The two discussed the Navy’s digital ambassador outreach program that ran from October 2022 through the end of March. In the interview, while expressing his pride in serving his country, the sailor claimed, “Every branch has drag queens.”
Vittert asked Kelley about the selection process. Kelley explained the Naval Chief of Information office chose them and four other sailors as digital ambassadors because of the unique social media audiences the group reached, including women, people of color, and LGBTQ+ individuals. The program gave Navy recruiters entry into untapped market segments, opening up new recruitment opportunities.
The Navy is exploring a variety of methods to increase recruitment efforts and enlisted the help of sailor Joshua Kelley, also known as drag queen @HarpyDaniels. @LelandVittert speaks with Kelley about becoming an ambassador.
Watch #OnBalance: https://t.co/s8z9kEhjMw pic.twitter.com/K8DouHU2oY
— NewsNation (@NewsNation) May 9, 2023
The host also asked about critical comments made by politicians like Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) and Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and Jim Banks (R-IN), as well as former service members, including Navy SEAL Team Six member Robert O’Neill, specifically regarding troop readiness and effectiveness in light of the preoccupation with “identity politics.” Kelley answered that, as a service member, it wasn’t his place to judge whether the criticism was fair. Kelley doesn’t see inclusivity as a matter of “woke” politics. Instead, he sees the Navy’s diversity as adding to its strength.
Still, Kelley went on to say it didn’t stop with diversity. “We are taught how to serve with honor, courage, and commitment, how to do my job, how to lead my sailors.” A veteran of nearly 10 years, the sailor stated he was “proud to serve” and proud of his many accomplishments. Kelley insisted, “I’m more than just a drag queen,” emphasizing that maintaining and improving mission readiness to fight for the nation remained the primary goal.
The yeoman said he believes diversity allows the military to adapt more quickly to changing situations, creating a stronger fighting force. Kelley plans to continue doing his job as “an openly queer sailor… And I’m not the only one.” He said that every military branch has LGTBQ+ members, including drag queens, serving among the ranks.
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