Tennessee Republican Lt. Gov. Randy McNally, 79, sat down in an interview to explain his social media interactions with a gay model on Instagram after he found himself facing accusations of hypocrisy.
A progressive website named the Tennessee Holler discovered the Lt. Gov. McNally responding with heart and flame emojis and other encouraging comments under very racy pics on the instagram page of a 20-year-old gay aspiring performer named Franklyn McClur.
Among the posts: a close-up of the young man’s underwear-covered backside.
McNally responded with three red hearts and three “on-fire” emojis, along with the comment: “Finn, you can turn a rainy day into rainbows and sunshine.”
Franklyn says he and McNally became friends on Facebook through mutual friends a few years back, and that McNally got Franklyn’s Instagram from there and has been commenting for a while now. He says he never took what appeared to be flirting from the verified account of the Lt. Governor seriously.
“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 and his communications team explain that McNally has always been very active on social media. “It’s that, you know, I, you know, try to encourage people with posts and try to, you know, help them if I can,” McNally said.
McNally was asked if he had ever had any personal relationship with Franklyn, and McNally said he had never met the young man.
“Have you thought about resigning?” McNally was asked.
His answer: “I think that that’s really up to the members of the Senate. I would serve at their pleasure, and they are my boss.”
McNally is a Roman Catholic who has two adult daughters with his wife Janice.
Tennessee is currently leading the nation in anti-LGBTQ hate, with 26 anti-lgbtq bills moving through the legislature, including a health care ban for trans youth, and the nation’s first felony drag queen bill.