Tennessee Republican Randy McNally was questioned about his Instagram activity by reporters at the state Capitol on Thursday. The Lt. Governor came under fire earlier this week when progressive news site TN Holler first reported on his recent history of posting heart and fire emojis as well as compliments in the comments of a 20-year-old gay man’s very revealing photos.
McNally has not denied liking and commenting on Franklyn McClur’s photos, many featuring the aspiring musician in little more than underwear.
“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 implications than it does about Randy McNally,” the Lt. Governor’s office said in a statement.
Local ABC affiliate WKRN has reported that McNally’s account also “liked” a photo of a transgender woman. On Thursday, TN Holler’s Instagram posted multiple screenshots of McNally’s account liking and commenting on photos posted by a woman who identifies as trans.
McClur, who posts on Instagram as “franklynsuperstar,” has said that he and McNally have been friends on social media for years. They’ve exchanged private messages, but have never met in person. McClur told local NBC affiliate Action News 5 that the Lt. Governor first contacted him on social media when he was 17. McClur asked McNally whether there were “any open positions to help him in the office of any kind.”
“He was very willing to help me out,” McClur said.
Nashville public radio station WPLN News reports that TN Holler confronted McNally on Thursday at the Tennessee Capitol.
“Do you really think it says more about me than it does about you that you’re attacking LGBTQ people while you’re commenting on his pictures like that?” a reporter for the site asked.
“I’m not anti-gay,” McNally responded.
The reporter then asked why McNally and fellow Republicans had passed anti-LGBTQ+ bills.
“Well, we pass bills that kind of limit certain things, and I think there are safeguards in there,” McNally said.
Under Gov. Bill Lee’s (R) leadership, Tennessee recently passed legislation intended to ban drag performances in public spaces and gender-affirming healthcare for transgender youth. Numerous other anti-LGBTQ+ bills are currently moving through the state legislature. McNally voted in favor of the anti-drag bill but did not vote for the bill restricting gender-affirming care, according to NBC News. He also reportedly advised the Tennessee Senate to be “sensitive to the rights of individuals” when considering ten anti-LGBTQ+ bills in 2019.
He disagreed that Tennessee is the most anti-LGBTQ+ state legislature in the country and defended his record on LGBTQ+ issues. As NBC News reports, McNally did not support a bill that Lee signed in 2020, which allowed religious adoption agencies to discriminate against same-sex couples.
“I thought that a marriage should be between a man and a woman, and I still kind of feel that way,” McNally said. “But I still have [gay] friends that are married.”