Head of Navy Recruiting Doubles Down After Drag Queen 'Digital Ambassador' Sickens Public
The head of the Navy’s recruiting branch is not backing down amid a flurry of criticism for deploying a drag queen to promote the service.
Rear Adm. Lex Walker, head of Navy Recruiting Command, addressed the controversy in an email to recruiters shared by the TRMLX blog and confirmed by the Daily Caller News Foundation.
Walker told recruiters to double down on the Navy’s support for “diversity, equity and inclusion” if they receive any inquiries about Harpy Daniels, the enlisted sailor and drag queen the Navy tapped as its first “digital ambassador.”
Harpy Daniels, whose real name is Joshua Kelley, participated in a pilot initiative aimed at expanding the Navy’s digital reach. The DCNF was the first to report on Kelley’s involvement in the campaign, which wrapped up in March.
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“If recruits ask, our Navy is an organization that recognizes the contributions of people from all walks of life, and values and supports diversity, equity, and inclusion,” Walker said in the email. He clarified that Kelley is not part of Navy Recruiting Command.
Walker thanked recruiters for helping the Navy mitigate its recruiting shortfall — down to an estimated 6,000 from 12,000. He included “he/him” pronouns in his signature in rainbow colors.
Dave Benham, public affairs director for Navy Recruiting Command, confirmed the email’s authenticity to the DCNF.
Kelley’s involvement in the program drew the ire of conservatives.
“Maybe the Navy should talk to Bud Light marketing and exchange notes about what NOT to do,” Republican Texas Rep. Dan Crenshaw, a retired Navy SEAL, wrote on social media.
“The U.S. Navy is now using an enlisted sailor Drag Queen as a recruiter. I’m done. China is going to destroy us. … I can’t believe I fought for this bulls***,” said Robert J. O’Neill, the former Navy SEAL who claims to have killed Osama bin Laden.
Sabrina Singh, the Pentagon’s deputy press secretary, said at a Thursday briefing that the digital ambassador program was a “pilot outreach effort” and “not a recruiting effort.”
A Navy spokesperson would not provide additional details about the digital ambassador program.
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