A U.S. Air Force base responded to controversy about a drag queen show hosted by the base by saying the performance was “essential to the morale, cohesion, and readiness of the military.”
Jewels and the Brunchettes performed to a small crowd at the Los Angeles Air Force Base on Aug. 8. The Diversity Day celebration also featured a speech by Brig. Gen. Tammy Smith and included booths representing and honoring a number of ethnic heritages as well as an LGBT booth. Smith became the first openly gay general after the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” The performance sparked outrage among some airmen who called the drag show “totally offensive and inappropriate.”
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An airman who asked to remain anonymous said it is ironic the Air Force is cracking down on Christians being able to openly share their faith but would allow individuals to dress in drag. “We can’t even have Bibles on our desks,” he said. “This base is not a platform for political agendas. It is a military installation. The [Diversity Day] display was totally inappropriate and offensive.”
The whole effort is part of a Pentagon recruitment drive to appeal to LGBT people, with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin dismissing criticism of the program as “talking points” that foreign adversaries could “capitalize on.” He went on to claim that the U.S. military was not going “soft” and is instead focused on doing a “great job of recruiting the right kinds of people.”