Tennessee Lieutenant Governor Randy McNally apologized Thursday for the uproar caused by a series of suggestive comments, including red hearts and “on fire” emoji, that he left on the Instagram account of a young gay man.
“Am I’m really, really sorry whether I have embarrassed my family, embarrassed my friends, embarrassed any of the members of the legislature with the posts,” the 79-year-old Republican said in an interview with local television station WTVF-TV.
McNally has come under fire for his social media interactions with Franklyn McClur, a 20-year-old model from Knoxville.
Some of the posts by the young man, who calls himself Franklin Superstar on Instagram and TikTok, include racy videos and references to oral sex.
Thursday afternoon, a day after the Tennessee Holler posted screenshots of the conversations On social media, the lieutenant governor’s office issued a statement blaming “the mind of the left-wing operative” for implying that “great-grandfather’s use of social media” was inappropriate.
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“Do you always use the right emoji at the right time? Maybe not,” the statement read in part.
Later Thursday, McNally appeared to have changed his tone in an interview with WTVF-TV’s “News Channel 5 Investigates”.
When asked about a post that read “Finn, you can turn a rainy day into rainbows and sunshine,” commenting on a close-up photo of the young man’s underwear-clad buttocks, McNally said he was “basically trying to cheer him up.” . ”
The lieutenant governor was also asked to comment on the heart emoji he had left in a post in which McClur described himself as “not a whore” but a “hoe”, adding “one is a whore and the other she’s a prostitute” and that “she gets free weed for sucking”.
“I don’t know, a lot of times on some people’s posts you see the name and you see what they’ve written, and you just hit the button that says ‘like’,” he said, adding that he doesn’t remember “reading the part about the grass”, but “could have read” the part about the “prostitute”.
Tennessee has passed more anti-LGBTQ legislation than any other state in the nation. Last week, Governor Bill Lee signed into law a total ban on gender-affirming care for minors and a bill targeting drag performances, the first of its kind in the nation.
Lee, a Republican, has also been accused of hypocrisy. Just days before he signed the anti-drag legislation, an old photograph of himself dressed in drag resurfaced on social media timelines.