TN politician backing anti-LGBTQ+ bills caught leaving flirty comments on gay man's IG

SMH @ Tenneesee rn.

Credit: AP PHOTO
Credit: AP PHOTO

Tennessee’s Republican Lt. Gov. ​​Randy McNally— who has supported state lawmakers’ efforts to enact several pieces of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation, including a first-of-its-kind bill severely restricting drag performances— has been caught making flirtatious remarks on a gay man's provocative social media posts.

Some of the comments McNally left—using his verified, public Instagram account—included remarks like, “You can turn a rainy day into rainbows and sunshine!” and “Way to go Finn!!! You light up the world!!” alongside numerous heart, clapping, and fire emoji. The man behind the posts McNally commented on is a 20-year-old named Franklin McClure.

According to NBC News, McNally had commented more than 80 times on photos of McClure, dating back to June 2020.

As the state’s lieutenant governor, McNally also serves as speaker in the GOP-controlled Tennessee state Senate. According to the ACLU, Tennessee is among the states leading the country in anti-LGBTQ+ bills this session, with more than 20 under consideration in its legislature and two already passed into law, including the anti-drag bill McNally expressed support for. McClure told The Tennessean that he believes McNally is hypocritical for championing legislation that targets the LGBTQ+ community while simultaneously making flirtatious passes at him on social media.

Adam Kleinheider, a spokesperson for McNally, said in a March 8 statement that the 79-year-old “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.”

“I try to encourage people on my posts. I try to support people,” McNally said. “I have friends that are gay, I have friends with relatives who are gay. I don't feel any animosity towards gay people. I think that's fairly clear.”

The controversy over McNally’s social media activity comes just days after old photos resurfaced seemingly showing Tennessee’s GOP Gov. Bill Lee dressed in drag in a high school yearbook. Lee went on to sign the state’s anti-drag bill.