Tennessee Lieutenant Governor Randy McNeely announced Monday that he is “pausing” his social media activity following revelations that he repeatedly commented on sexually suggestive photos of a 20-year-old gay man.
“While I see now that I should have been more careful about how my comments and activity would be perceived, my intention was always engagement and encouragement,” McNealy said in a statement. “For this reason, I am pausing my social media activity to reflect and receive more guidance on my use of social media.”
McNally, a Republican and speaker of the state Senate, apologized last week after it was revealed he was commenting on an Instagram post by Knoxville native artist Franklin McClure, who now lives in Charlotte, North Carolina. McNally commented on McClure’s post more than 80 times from June 2020 to February 26, according to an analysis by NBC News.
Many of McNally’s critics have accused him of hypocrisy, noting that he was voting in favor of legislation targeting Tennessee’s LGBTQ community when he commented on McClure’s provocative post.
The 79-year-old lawmaker’s social media posts have since garnered national attention, even becoming the subject of a skit on NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” over the weekend.
Some of McNally’s more recent — and arguably flirtatious — comments were on photos that showed McClure half-naked. McNally posted two comments on a close-up picture of McClure’s backside, writing, “Finn, you can turn a rainy day into rainbows and sunshine!” and adding heart and fire emoji.
McClure said in an interview with NBC News last week that he agreed with those who called McNally “hypocrites,” noting that the self-identified conservative voted in favor of a bill that would have banned some drag performances. Will do The measure was signed by Tennessee’s Republican governor. , Bill Lee, and takes effect on April 1.
“He can obviously appreciate me in some way, and if he can appreciate me, you know, I’m pretty out there. I don’t think drag queens, for the most part, you know, doing shows where she shoves her butt in everybody’s face,” McClure said. “I’ve had my butt in people’s faces, and she’s supported some of them, so I don’t know if she’s going to pay people’s money. Why is he supporting a bill that hurts expression, happiness.”
In his statement Monday, McNally said criticism of his social media activity is “fair,” but said allegations that he or his legislative record are “anti-gay” are “false.”
“On a personal level, nothing could be further from the truth. I believe that every person has value and deserves respect regardless of their orientation,” he said. “I have worked hard to try and understand this community better, while at the same time making no compromises in trying to protect the children and my values.”
While he affirmed his support for the state bill prohibiting drag performances and said he supports “traditional marriage”, he noted that he supported taxpayer-funded child welfare agencies seeking same-sex prospective parents. Spoke against the bill for refusing to work with father. The bill was eventually signed by the governor in January 2020).
He said, “I would encourage everyone to look at my record in its totality.” “It’s both completely conservative and kind to others.”