The US Navy’s active-duty drag queen “digital ambassador” has responded to critics with a TikTok video claiming to be “winning.”
Yeoman 2nd Class Joshua Kelley, who performs under Harpy Daniels, said in the video that “haters only hate when you’re winning.”
Kelley was the first of five Navy Digital Ambassadors involved with an influencer pilot program from October to March.
The Navy said the ad campaign was “designed to explore the digital environment to reach a wide range of potential candidates” as it struggles to recruit.
“This experience has brought me so much strength, courage and ambition to continue being an advocate and representation of queer sailors,” Kelley said in an Instagram post. Kelley concluded the post with, “Hooyah, and let’s go Slay!”
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The backlash to the drag queen influencer was swift.
Robert J. O’Neill, the Navy SEAL who killed Osama bin Laden, tweeted, “Alright. The U.S. Navy is now using an enlisted sailor Drag Queen as a recruiter. I’m done. China is going to destroy us. YOU GOT THIS NAVY. I can’t believe I fought for this bulls***.”
Alright. The U.S. Navy is now using an enlisted sailor Drag Queen as a recruiter. I’m done. China is going to destroy us. YOU GOT THIS NAVY. I can’t believe I fought for this bullshit.
— Robert J. O’Neill (@mchooyah) May 3, 2023
In response to the criticism, Kelley made a video featuring a tweet from podcaster Graham Allen that said the woke Navy was “not the same military [he] served under” and that America’s “enemies laugh at us” for it.
“Haters only hate when you are winning,” Kelley captioned the video. “LGBTQ+ people never could serve open because of DADT (Don’t Ask Don’t Tell).”
@harpydaniels Haters only Hate when you are winning. LGBTQ+ People never could serve open because of DADT. Now that we can, you can see who the Homphobic and Transphobic people are. #fyp #miltok #military #lgbt #dragtok #grahamallen ♬ original sound – jaredleto
“Now that we can, you can see who the homophobic and transphobic people are,” it continued.
In another video, he thanked his supporters.
@harpydaniels It was amazing to lead with some of the Navy’s Higher Ranking Officers and Enlisted. We showed anyone can lead no matter rank or background. Go Follow CAPT Alota, LCDR Edgar, LT Travis & PO1 Sency. In the Navy we all have the ability to be leaders and make a difference! #fyp #military #Navy #DEI #miltok #lgbtq🏳️🌈 ♬ LOST out everywhere – tony ann
A Navy spokesperson told Newsweek that it is “proud of and stands by any person who is willing to take an oath to put their life on the line in defence of this nation.”
“Much like the country we serve, our Navy is stronger when we draw upon our diverse resources, skills, capabilities and talents,” the spokesperson continued. “We remain committed to an inclusive environment.”