Navy Posts and Then Quietly Deletes LGBT-Themed Images on Social Media

Ryan Morgan
By Ryan Morgan
June 2, 2023Politics
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Navy Posts and Then Quietly Deletes LGBT-Themed Images on Social Media
The U.S. Department of the Navy seal hangs on the wall at the Pentagon in Washington on Feb. 24, 2009. (Paul J. Richards/AFP via Getty Images)

The U.S. Navy’s Twitter briefly went through an LGBT-themed makeover, before the military branch reversed course and removed the imagery.

On Thursday, the Navy’s official Twitter account included a special LGBT-themed banner showing two U.S. warships and an F-18 fighter jet leaving the colors of the rainbow flag in their wake. The icon of an eagle, shield, and anchor that the Navy has used in its Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook profile pictures was also modified on Thursday, with the eagle’s feather’s changed to match the rainbow flag colors.

The timing of the Navy’s social media profile settings coincided with the start of June, which is officially recognized as LGBT Pride Month. But by Friday, the LGBT-themed imagery had disappeared from the Navy’s social media accounts.

In addition to removing its temporary profile pictures and banners, the Navy also appeared to remove what would have been a more-permanent Instagram photo post.

The Navy did not immediately call attention to its decision to remove the LGBT imagery from its social media accounts, but the change was nevertheless spotted by watchful social media users. A Navy spokesperson did acknowledge the change in response to an NTD News request for comment.

“The US Navy posted graphics in support of the start of Pride month to honor the service, commitment, and sacrifice of the LGBTQ+ Service members and personnel who volunteer to defend our country,” the Navy spokesperson said. “As we do with all Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute (DEOMI) observance months, we will look for additional opportunities to celebrate the diversity and strength of our Sailors. Members of the LGBTQ+ community serve their country, fully contribute to the DOD mission, and deserve a welcoming environment which enables them to reach their full potential.”

The Navy spokesperson did not specify the reason why this particular recognition of the LGBT community only lasted through the first day of June.

Navy Under Scrutiny

The U.S. military has come under increased scrutiny over its handling of a variety of social issues in recent years. Numerous Republican lawmakers have questioned various components of the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) for its focus on “diversity and inclusion” and whether the military is being used as a venue to promote “woke” social and political agendas.

On Thursday, a government watchdog organization called the Functional Government Initiative (FGI), announced it had documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request that showed at least two Navy officials emailed back and forth about ways to share LGBT-themed imagery during June last year without stirring up objections from the military branch’s own recruiters.

According to the documents FGI reviewed, one Navy employee suggested giving the recruiters no notice of the changes until it was too late for them to express their concerns. The two Navy employees also reportedly referred to critics of the LGBT imagery as “bigots,” “bad actors,” and “less savory members of our audience.”

Pentagon Cracks Down On Drag Performances

Some of the Republican scrutiny of wokeness in the military, has centered on military components using resources for and promoting drag performances.

Several Republican lawmakers sent a letter to Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro after news broke that the Navy had named Yeoman 2nd Class Joshua Kelley—a drag-performing sailor who identifies as non-binary—as a member of a pilot “digital ambassador” program.

During a March 29 congressional hearing, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) questioned Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley over a number of drag performances that had taken place on military bases and installations. Austin repeatedly denied that taxpayer funding was going toward these events, while Milley said he would like to look into those past incidents “because I don’t agree with those, I think those things shouldn’t be happening.”

On Thursday, the DOD canceled a drag performance that was scheduled to take place at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada. In an emailed statement, deputy Pentagon press secretary Sabrina Singh said, “Hosting these types of events in federally funded facilities is inconsistent with regulations regarding the use of DOD resources.”

The Human Rights Campaign, an LGBT advocacy organization, condemned the DOD for canceling the drag show at Nellis Air Force Base and blocking future drag performances on military installations. In a Thursday press statement, the organization accused the DOD of “ceding to extremist forces focused on taking away our rights.”

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