Mar 10, 2023 - Politics

Lt. Gov. McNally reacts to Instagram comments

Lt. Gov. Randy McNally speaking.

Lt. Gov. Randy McNally. Photo: courtesy of McNally's office

Lt. Gov. Randy McNally, one of the most respected and influential figures in Tennessee politics, is facing scrutiny for making supportive comments on a gay man's racy Instagram photos.

The latest: McNally also liked a transgender model's Instagram posts, commenting that they were "elegant" and "super beautiful." The woman also uses the account to promote adult videos that are posted on other platforms.

Why it matters: McNally (R-Oak Ridge) leads the Senate, which has broadly supported legislation this year targeting the LGBTQ+ community.

  • The legislature recently approved bills designed to restrict public drag shows and ban gender-affirming care for minors. Several other measures are pending.
  • McNally voted in favor of the drag bill and missed the vote on the gender-affirming care bill.

State of play: McNally spokesperson Adam Kleinheider said in a statement McNally was "a prolific social media commenter" who "takes great pains to view every post he can and frequently posts encouraging things to many of his followers."

Driving the news: McNally liked and commented on multiple posts showing an Instagram user scantily clad. Responding to a message from Axios, the Instagram user said his name is Franklyn McClur (other news outlets have used an alternate spelling of his name).

  • "You can turn a rainy day into rainbows and sunshine," McNally wrote on a post showing McClur from behind while he was shirtless in tight-fitting underwear.
  • In another post, where McClur is wearing makeup and posing shirtless, McNally wrote, "way to go Finn!!! You light up the world!!" followed by fire emojis.
  • McClur told the Tennessean he thought McNally was hypocritical to like the posts while backing this year's legislation.

The liberal advocacy site TN Holler was the first to publicize McNally's social media comments.

What he's saying: "Trying to imply something sinister or inappropriate about a great-grandfather's use of social media says more about the mind of the left-wing operative making the implication than it does about Randy McNally," Kleinheider said in the statement.

  • "Does he always use the proper emoji at the proper time? Maybe not. But he enjoys interacting with constituents and Tennesseans of all religions, backgrounds and orientations on social media. He has no intention of stopping."
  • In a NewsChannel 5 interview, McNally apologized if he embarrassed anyone and said he'll continue as lieutenant governor for as long as the Senate members want him to.

Zoom out: Speaking to reporters Thursday about his comments on McClur's photos, McNally said he said he had "friends that are gay. … I don't feel any animosity towards gay people,” per the Tennessean. He mentioned opposing some past legislation targeting LGBTQ+ people.

  • McNally spoke out against a 2020 bill that protected religious adoption agencies that discriminate against same-sex couples.
  • He has also expressed concern over other anti-LGBTQ+ measures over the years. He didn't openly oppose the legislation this year.

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