‘Bouncy Houses’ and ‘Goodie-Bags’: Inside the Military's Drag Queen Events for Kids
The U.S. military under President Joe Biden has hosted numerous drag queen events for children on military bases, advertising the story hours alongside promises of “bouncy houses,” face painting, and “goodie-bags.” After public backlash, one base’s spokesman called gender-bending events “essential” to military morale and readiness.
Now, a conservative Republican congressman plans to hold the Biden administration’s feet to the fire after its top military advisor said drag queen events for children “shouldn’t be happening.”
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) raised the issue of the “deeply unserious things” the administration has foisted on America’s fighting forces with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin during a congressional hearing on Wednesday.
“How much taxpayer money should go to fund Drag Queen Story Hours on military bases?” Gaetz asked Lloyd.
“Drag Queen Story Hours is [sic] not something that the Department [of Defense] funds” or “supports,” asserted Austin.
“Wait a second, that’s actually not what the record seems to suggest,” corrected Congressman Gaetz, pointing to four drag-themed events on U.S. military institutions.
- Germany’s Ramstein Air Force Base planned to celebrate Pride Month by hosting a “Drag Queen Story Time” for soldiers’ children inside the base library last June 2. The event was canceled after Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) called the decision “completely insane” in a letter to U.S. Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall. Since “decisions over children and their bodies should be left to moms and dads serving our nation, not mediated through publicly funded propaganda,” wrote Rubio;
- Although that event was canceled, Gaetz highlighted another example of cross-dressing men reading to minors at Malmstrom Air Force Base in deep-red Montana. “To celebrate pride, the Mister Sisters will be hosting a Drag Story Time and a Drag Show, June 30,” 2021, the base announced on Facebook. “The reading will be held at the Base Library at 2 P.M. and the first 25 children will be gifted goodie-bags”;
- The Army and Air Force’s Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Virginia announced two on-base drag performances last July 30. The base-wide “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Summer Festival” advertised the dance stylings of “Harpy Daniels — the Navy Drag Queen” alongside “bouncy houses and face painting for the children”; and
- The Nellis Air Force Base near Las Vegas — once described as offering the “most demanding advanced air combat training in the world” — hosted “Drag-u-Nellis,” a privately sponsored drag show for officers, at an on-base facility on June 17, 2021. Nellis AFB Spokesman Col. Bryon McGarry described LGBTQ-themed spectacles as “essential to the morale, cohesion, and readiness of the military,” adding he remains “committed to providing and championing an environment that is characterized by equal opportunity, diversity and inclusion.”
Confronted with the evidence, Austin replied, “I stand by what I just said.” Gaetz quickly parried that Austin’s sworn testimony is “belied by the evidence” and “doesn’t comport with the facts.”
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley asked for copies of the articles Gaetz had entered into the Congressional Record, saying, “I’d like to take a look at those, because I don’t agree with” drag events for children. “It shouldn’t be happening.”
“Thank you for that admission,” Gaetz replied.
“To their credit, they said if I brought them examples of where this was happening on installations, that they would use their power to stop it,” Gaetz told “Washington Watch with Tony Perkins” shortly after the hearing. “In a world of divided government where Joe Biden’s the president, I guess that counts as a win for the day.” But he advised conservatives to “remain diligent that in the name of ‘diversity, equity, and inclusion,’ we don’t create a more divisive and less welcoming fighting force.”
Some of the men who put on cross-dressing events defend their propriety and accuse Republicans of pouncing on the issue. “There’s nothing sexualized about a drag queen reading a book to a group of children,” insisted Daniels Hays, a federal employee who gives cross-dressing performances under the name Muffy Blake Stevens. “Politicians of any stripe [are] using drag queens as their wedge issue to try and ignite their base and say, somehow, we’re coming for” their children. In reality, “none of us are on a crusade to change anyone,” he contended.
But the official Drag Story Hour (DSH) website declares, “DSH captures the imagination and play of the gender fluidity of childhood and gives kids glamorous, positive, and unabashedly queer role models.”
“Elementary school is the perfect time” to introduce children to extreme gender theory, before children “develop a stable understanding of their gender identity,” one LGBTQ activist told teachers and administrators of schools located on U.S. military bases.
Gaetz’s revelations come on intensifying concern over the Biden administration teaching children transgenderism, “global citizenship,” and equity-tinged critical race theory in the global complex of military-run schools. “The new military education aims to detach military brats from their families and their country, all the better to make them global citizens. It seeks to disrupt stable sexual identities,” wrote Ryan P. Williams and Scott Yenor of the Claremont Institute. The U.S. Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA), teaches more than 66,000 students in 160 schools spread over seven states and 11 foreign countries.
Biden’s dogged promotion of gender nihilism also coincides with one of the worst years of military recruitment on record, a failure Gaetz and others chalk up to the Democratic Party’s determination to replace toughness with liberal social engineering. “The American South [and] the American Southeast make an oversize contribution” to the ranks of enlisted soldiers. “When values are presented that are antithetical to the values that a lot of people grow up with, then I think that can really have an impact on readiness.”
While transvestite events have taken place on military bases for years, official government approbation is a relatively new occurrence.
Navy drag queen “Harpy Daniels,” whose real name is Joshua Kelley, discussed performing drag shows for his fellow sailors in a 2018 interview, in which he also admitted he joined the service to get enough money to keep performing in women’s make-up. “With drag being my number one passion, it quickly became costly,” Kelley said. “The Navy became a great option to get myself situated” financially. Kelley also became an officer in the Gay, Lesbian and Supporting Sailors association chapter aboard a carrier named for Ronald Reagan.
Gaetz asked “Washington Watch” listeners to share examples of wokeness in the military with him via his website, “so we can bring it forward, highlight it, and then defund it” and “get rid of the authorities that even allow this nonsense — whether it’s dividing people on gender or on race or on belief.”
“One of the remarkable things about our military is that they are in a community of common fate,” Congressman Gaetz told Perkins. “Included in that is a common sense of mission and patriotism and love of country,” which the commander-in-chief should not undermine by promoting radical theories on transgenderism, race, or COVID-19 vaccination status.
“It is absolutely important that our military focus on its mission, and that is fighting and winning wars, not promoting drag queen story hours and the rest of this woke agenda,” said Perkins.
Ben Johnson is senior reporter and editor at The Washington Stand.