Lieutenant Governor of Tennessee, 79, comments on the racy Instagram photos of the young gay man

The lieutenant governor of Tennessee, who recently passed several bills targeting LGBTQ people and culture, frequently commented from his verified Instagram account on shirtless photos of a young gay man.

Republican Lt. Gov. Randy McNally, who also serves as speaker of the state Senate, left supportive — and no doubt flirtatious — comments and emojis under the risque social media photos posted by Franklin McClurea 20-year-old artist from Knoxville, who goes by Franklyn Superstar on social media. The Tennessee Hollera local publication, first reported the news Wednesday evening after receiving an anonymous tip.

In response to a photo of McClure dancing outside in her underwear, McNally, 79, wrote: “I like it,” with heart emojis. In another close-up shot of McClure’s back, where he is wearing only what appears to be slips, McNally wrote two comments: “Finn, you can turn a rainy day into rainbows and sunshine!” and another with hearts and fire emojis, to which McClure replied “You are literally always so beautiful King,” with a heart emoji. In another image, where McClure’s the shorts are pulled up a bit, McNally commented, “Super look Finn.” Finn is McClure’s nickname, according to his Facebook page.

Tennessee Lt. Gov. Randy McNally commented on a post by Franklin McClure. (via Instagram)

McNally posted more than 80 comments on McClure’s Instagram account dating back to June 2020 and as recently as February 26, with his initial comments more like pep talks in response to McClure’s posts on the his life and his mental health.

In October 2020, McClure he posted a video of himself singing with the caption: “When we appreciate others while they’re here and don’t wait until they’re gone. And I’m trying to survive. I’m trying to catch my breath, but I’m breaking down and crying. It’s not okay, I know I was fine. When was this my life…”

McNally left two encouraging comments on the post. In one, he told McClure that he is “not invisible” and added, in part, “People appreciate you. Life is full of pain, loss and tribulation, but it’s also full of great moments of humanity and people who harm themselves. others or for great causes.” In another, McNally told McClure if he ever feels “wracked with anxiety or can’t sleep,” McNally could help McClure “get in touch with someone who can work with you to deal with that.”

Adam Kleinheider, McNally’s director of communications, said that “trying to imply something sinister or inappropriate about a grandfather’s use of social media says more about the mind of the left-wing activist than it does the involvement of Randy McNally.”

“As anyone in Tennessee politics knows, Lt. Gov. McNally is a prolific social media commentator,” Kleinheider said in an email to NBC News. “He takes great pains to see every post he can and often publishes encouraging things to many of his followers. Does he always use the right emoji at the right time? Maybe not. But he likes to interact with constituents and Tennesseans of all religions, backgrounds and orientations on social media. He has no intention of stopping.”

The social media activity of McNally, whose Instagram bio identifies him as a conservative, has drawn criticism from LGBTQ people and advocates who have accused him. he of hypocrisynoting that his state has recently taken the lead in passing bills aimed at the community.

A reporter for the Tennessee Lookout asked McNally on allegations of hypocrisy after a Senate session Thursday, noting that he previously sponsored legislation to ban same-sex marriage. McNally said he supported that legislation before the The Supreme Court’s 2015 decision in Obergefell v. Hodges in favor of same-sex marriage.

“I think marriage should be between a man and a woman, and I still feel that way,” he said Thursday.

McNally added that he has friends and a family member who are gay and tries to support many people, the Lookout reported.

So far this year, Tennessee lawmakers have introduced 26 bills aimed at LGBTQ people, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, which follows them. Last week, Gov. Bill Lee signed two of them into law: one which will criminalize some drag performances and another that would ban certain transition medical treatments, including puberty blockers, hormone therapy and surgery, for transgender minors in the state.

Last month, Lee faced criticism similar to what McNally received after a photo was shared on Reddit and Twitter appeared to show the governor dressed in drag. Lee neither confirmed nor denied that the photo was of him, but said it was “ridiculous” to confuse the image with “sexualized entertainment in front of children, which is a very serious subject”.

McClure did not respond to a request for comment. He told the Tennessee Holler that he hadn’t made the connection between who McNally is and the state’s legislation targeting LGBTQ people. He said he thought it was random that McNally commented on his pictures, but that he never took it seriously.

“I just thought he was older and out of touch,” he told the Holler. “I always took it as a compliment. I don’t regret it or think he’s a bad person, he’s one of the only people who always lifted me up and made me feel good.”

McClure said the two have been texting for years, although Holler did not say whether he disclosed details about those messages. In the interview, he stressed that he does not have a negative opinion of McNally, even though McClure opposes the state’s efforts to limit foster and transitional care for minors.

McNally’s record on state legislation targeting LGBTQ people has been mixed. He voted in favor of the drag bill, and he he did not vote on the limitation of gender affirmation care.

In 2020, McNally do not support a project which allows religious adoption agencies to refuse to place children with couples if doing so “violates the agency’s written religious or moral beliefs or policies.” The bill, which advocates say would allow agencies to discriminate against same-sex couples, still passed and Lee signed it into law.

In February 2021, second the TennesseeMcNally said that while he believes allowing transgender girls to play on girls’ and girls’ sports teams at school will hurt women’s sports, state lawmakers should “move with caution.”

“Whatever we do will probably be reviewed by the federal government and they can cut funding to the state,” he said. the Tennessee reported “It’s an issue that I think we need to move carefully.”

In 2019, when the state considered 10 bills aimed at LGBTQ people, McNally said the Senate would be “sensitive to the effect that some of those could have on businesses and events that could happen in Tennessee ” and also “sensitive to the rights of individuals”. “, local radio station WPLN reported.

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