Tennessee Lt. Gov.’s Comments on Young Gay Man’s Insta Pics Beg a Few Questions

Close-up of man using smartphone

The tone is somewhat at odds with the state’s recent bills targeting the LGBTQ community.

Lt. Gov. Randy McNally of Tennessee has been leaving some potentially saucy comments under photos posted by Franklin McClure, a 20-year-old musician from Knoxville.

Using his verified account, the 79-year-old wrote “Love it,” under a photo of McClure cavorting in his underwear, posted hearts and fire emojis under a close-up of his scantily-clad bottom, and “Great picture, Finn!” under a (partial) photo of McClure naked. Next to an image of McClure with his shorts pulled down, he wrote “Super look Finn.”

Finn is apparently McClure’s nickname.

A whiff of hypocrisy?

McNally’s posts are raising eyebrows — less for their (very) friendly tone than for the fact that they stand in stark contrast to the state’s recent bills targeting the LGBTQ community. 

According to the ACLU, the state has introduced 26 such bills so far this year, two of which Gov. Bill Lee signed into law last week.

One criminalizes drag shows performed on public property or in locations where they can be viewed by minors. First-time offenses will be classified as misdemeanors, but repeat offenders could be slapped with felonies resulting in six-year prison sentences.

The second prohibits various forms of transition-related medical care for trans minors, like puberty blockers and surgery.

McNally, who also serves as speaker of the state Senate, voted for the anti drag bill, but abstained from the vote on gender-affirming care. 

What does McClure make of all this?

McClure, who has apparently interacted with McNally on social media for some time, was unaware of his political record — and role in promoting anti-LGBTQ legislature — until very recently.

“It’s wrong to ban drag, wrong to ban anything that isn’t hurting anyone. I don’t support hate of any kind,” he told The Tennessee Holler.

He added that he has no personal animosity towards McNally, saying: “I don’t hate him. I don’t dislike him. I don’t have a negative opinion on him. I’ve had a transformation since we started talking — I was more christian, now I’m more not christian. We were friends back before I was more openly myself. Before I was posting things more mature… If he’s hitting on me it’s real out of touch hitting on me.”

McNally’s spokesman points the finger

Adam Kleinheider, McNally’s communications director, said that “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.” 

“As anyone in Tennessee politics knows, Lt. Governor McNally is a prolific social media commenter,” he told NBC News via email. “He takes great pains to view every post he can and frequently posts encouraging things to many of his followers. 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.”