U.S. Congressman Matt Gaetz (FL-01) has demanded a response from the Department of Defense (DoD) Secretary Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Mark Milley concerning past and future drag shows on military installations, according to a Tuesday press release.
Gaetz’s letter underlines the DoD’s “pervasive and persistent use of taxpayer dollars for drag events.”
The congressman seeks answers to all questions posed in his letter by June 12, 2023, along with clarification on whether any punitive action has been or will be implemented against individuals who enabled drag events with taxpayer funds.
In his letter, Gaetz expressed his discontent, stating, “I find it completely unacceptable that DoD is using taxpayer dollars to fund DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) programs that are divisive in nature. DoD resources should be used for mission-essential operations, not diverted toward initiatives that create cultural fissures within our service ranks.”
He further drew attention to specific instances of drag queen story hours and drag shows held on U.S. military bases.
To his surprise, Secretary Austin and General Milley had indicated they were unaware of such events taking place.
Gaetz wrote, “However, I am pleased to know you do not support these drag events and agree with me that they should not be happening.”
The letter details several events across different U.S. military bases, questioning the amount of DoD funding intended for these events, whether background checks were conducted on the performers, and if service members were diverted from their normal duties to facilitate these events.
One particular event on Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Virginia was highlighted, where the commander approved the “Diversity, Equity, Inclusion Summer Festival,” featuring DoD drag performer “Harpy Daniels.”
In response to this, Gaetz asked, “Secretary Austin, do you intend to issue a formal retraction of your testimony to the House Armed Services Committee regarding your stated belief that the DoD does not fund or support drag events?”
Furthermore, Gaetz expressed concern about a “family-friendly” drag event organized by the Nellis LGBTQ+ Pride Council for June 1, 2023, at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, questioning whether it has been reviewed and approved by either Austin or Milley.
“In this latest outright attack on children, this event is being advertised as having no minimum age requirement,” the Florida representative noted.
Lastly, Gaetz scrutinized the U.S. Navy’s decision to hire active-duty drag queen Joshua Kelley to be a “Digital Ambassador” as part of a recruitment drive, asking whether the DoD promoted any content from Kelley’s personal drag queen social media account on official DoD platforms.
He concluded his letter by stating, “Please provide answers to all questions posed in this letter and clarification on whether any punitive action has or will be taken against individuals who facilitated drag events with taxpayer dollars by June 12, 2023. I appreciate your attention and await your reply.”
Read the full letter below: