Even before he joined the Navy, Joshua Kelly was known as Harpy Daniels, the pageant queen who was named Miss Gay Harrisburg in 2015. Thankfully, after joining the military, Harpy Daniels didn’t go anywhere, as Kelly’s made a name for himself as the Navy drag queen performing for his fellow sailors.
Yeoman 3rd Class Joshua Kelley is the administrative supervisor for Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 115. He comes from a Navy family, as his father was a senior chief Navy counselor for 24 years and talked up the Navy to his son. Though Kelley wanted to do drag for a living, it was awfully expensive.
“Drag was too costly of a road to go down at the time because I had college loans and living expenses to overcome,” Kelley says. “Knowing the benefits of enlisting, I would be able to gain a more comfortable lifestyle to support myself and my future in drag.”
During his first year in the Navy, Kelley was voted president of VFA 115’s Coalition of Sailors Against Destructive Decisions. He was also voted squadron public affairs officer for the Navy LGBTQ group the USS Ronald Reagan Gay, Lesbian and Supporting Sailors (GLASS).
Kelly says his original inspiration for doing drag was one of our favorite topics: Drag Race. “RuPaul’s Drag Race inspired me to start doing drag when I was 16 years old,” he says. “I never knew a man could embrace his femininity in a creative and entertaining way like that, and I knew it’s what I wanted to do.”
He adds, “Doing drag allows me to embrace my feminine side and allows me to bring my diversity and creativity out. When I put on a face, it’s a face of art and creativity, not just a face of makeup. To hear people cheer, laugh or cry — or even join in with you during a performance — is an absolute thrill. The best thing about it is that it allows me to inspire others by just being who I am today.”
And being a Navy drag queen has also helped Kelley’s military career. He compares being named VFA 115’s Blue Jacket of the Year to competing in Miss Gay Harrisburg.
“They both required a board-styled interview, including questions of history and current world events in their respective social setting and inspections on professionalism and grooming standards,” he says.