Harpy Daniels, aka Yeoman 2nd Class Joshua Kelley
Harpy Daniels, aka Yeoman 2nd Class Joshua Kelley (Photos: @harpy_daniels/US Gov.)

A serving member of the US Navy, who also happens to be a drag queen, says they’ve experienced a wave of hatred in the last 24 hours. This is despite the fact they’ve been doing their drag routine to help boost troop morale for years.

Back in 2018, several news outlets ran stories about Yeoman 2nd Class Joshua Kelley, then 24. At the time, Kelley, who is non-binary, was based on the USS Ronald Reagan in Yokosuka, Japan. They performed as Harpy during events organized by the Navy’s Morale, Welfare and Recreation Department.

Kelley told NBC News how welcome they felt in the Navy.

“I have many LGBT friends here, and if you can stand at attention properly and speak with proper etiquette, that’s what it comes down to in the Navy,” Kelley said. “No one tells me I’m too feminine. I’ve not once had a bad experience as a gay man in the military.”

In November 2022, Kelley announced they’d been recruited as a “Digital Ambassador” by the Navy to help boost recruitment. Presumably, Navy superiors felt Kelley promotes the fact LGBTQ people are very welcome in today’s armed forces.

A handful of Digital Ambassadors were used. None were paid and no official marketing material was produced featuring them. They simply promoted themselves on their own social media and talked about being in the Navy.

Kelley’s announcement went without much attention at the time. The USS Constitution Museum ran an illuminating and measured interview with Harpy about drag in the Navy.

Libs of TikTok and MAGA fury

However, that was before the GOP’s war on drag reached fever pitch and the whole Dylan Mulvaney/Bud Light backlash.

This week, right-wing extremists have picked up on Harpy Daniels and subjected Kelley to abuse. It all began when Libs of TikTok posted an old video of Kelley to Twitter.

Graham Allen, host of the Dear America Podcast, was among those to register their disgust.

Kelley responded last night, highlighting how much better the Navy is now that LGBTQ+ people can serve openly. On their Instagram stories, they also posted some of the vile messages they have received.

@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

“Haters only hate when we’re winning!”

In an Instagram post, Kelley posted a longer response to Allen.

“You want to tear down service members and use my content without a tag so you don’t look homophobic or transphobic. 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,” they said.

“You’re better off calling me a slur than using content from 5 years ago. Yet that video you’re sharing that was published in 2018, you had nothing to say till now?”

“You don’t actually care, you just need more followers … You don’t care if I get death threats, people wanting to harm me or spread disinformation.”

“Well, as a service member, a queen, and an open queer person. You don’t scare me and you won’t stop the LGBTQ+ community for thriving! Haters only hate when we’re winning!”

Someone who says they serve alongside Kelley was among those to respond.

“I am so beyond PROUD to be able to serve with you!!! Keep being your glorious brave and inspiring self!!! You are showing that it’s OK to be different and serve. YOU are making the 1% that chooses to serve a greater 1% you and all of my LGBTQIA brothers and sisters in arms. Keep being absolutely brave and amazing and eff those run-down forgotten-about veterans that have hate in their hearts.”

Go, Harpy!

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