Tennessee’s lieutenant governor has apologized for commenting on dozens of risque Instagram photos posted by a young gay man over the past three years. But the 20-year-old aspiring artist said the conservative lawmaker has nothing to be ashamed of.

Lieutenant Governor Randy McNally, 79, faced criticism Thursday after Tennessee Holler, a local progressive news outlet, first reported that he had commented on partially nude Instagram photos posted by Franklyn McClure when the state passed bills. aimed at the LGBTQ community.

in a interview Thursday with NewsChannel 5a CBS affiliate in Nashville, McNally said he did not intend to embarrass or hurt his friends and family or colleagues in the Legislature, where he also serves as chairman of the Republican-led Senate.

«I’m really, really sorry if I embarrassed my family, I embarrassed my friends, I embarrassed any of the members of the legislature with the posts,» he told NewsChannel 5.

Tennessee Lieutenant Governor Randy McNally in Nashville on May 1, 2019.Mark Humphrey/AP File

Among the photos McNally commented on was a close-up of McClure’s back, where he is only wearing what appear to be underpants. McNally wrote two comments on the post: «Finn, you can turn a rainy day into rainbows and sunshine!» and another with hearts and fire emojis, to which McClure replied, «You are literally always so kind King,» with a heart emoji. Finn is McClure’s nickname, known as Franklyn Superstar on social media.

When asked by NewsChannel 5 about her response to that particular photo, McNally said that she tries to «cheer people up with posts and try to, you know, help them if I can.»

He told NewsChannel 5 that he first befriended McClure, who is from the Knoxville area and now lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Facebook and later on Instagram, but the two never had a personal relationship or met in person. .

In an interview, McClure confirmed that the two had never met, but said McNally had sent him private messages, his first since June 2020. He said they were mostly «one-sided on his side».

When asked about the content of those private messages, McClure said: «I would say the messages show that he definitely supported me, and if he can support me, he can definitely make room in his heart to support many, many more people.» like me.»

McNally did not immediately respond to NBC News’ request for comment on whether he had ever sent McClure a private message.

McNally posted more than 80 comments on McClure’s Instagram account from early June 2020 to February 26, with his initial comments more like pep talks in response to McClure’s posts about his life and mental health.

Most recently, McNally liked a McClure photo. published in December 2022 in which McClure describes himself as a «hoe» and says he performs sex acts for free marijuana.

When asked by News Channel 5 if it was appropriate to like the photo, McNally said: «Probably not, probably not.»

Some people and LGBTQ advocates questioned whether the comments and likes were appropriate given the age difference between McNally and McClure, who said she was 17 when McNally began commenting on her photos. They have also accused the lieutenant governor of hypocrisynoting that he recently voted in favor of a bill criminalizing some drag performances. Gov. Bill Lee, also a Republican, signed the bill into law last month and it will take effect on April 1.

The lieutenant governor told NewsChannel 5 that he engaged with McClure and other LGBTQ people on Instagram because he is trying to be more supportive of their identities.

He noted that in 2020, did not support a bill which allows religious adoption agencies to refuse to place children with partners if doing so would «violate the agency’s written religious or moral convictions or policies.» At the time, advocates said the bill would allow agencies to discriminate against same-sex couples. It was eventually passed and Lee signed it into law.

McClure said he found out just two days ago that McNally has supported bills targeting the LGBTQ community, including one that restricts where and in front of whom drag performances can take place. «That was sad to hear,» she said.

When specifically asked about the drag bill, McClure speculated that McNally is «being influenced by those around him» and succumbing to «peer pressure.»

“Obviously he can appreciate me in a way, and if he can appreciate me, you know, I’m pretty much out there. I don’t think drag queens are, for the most part, you know, doing shows where they just put their butt in everybody’s face,” she said. «I’ve got my ass in people’s faces, and he’s supported some of them, so I don’t know why he’s supporting a bill to hurt people’s money, speech, and happiness.»

McClure said he agrees with those who have called McNally a «hypocrite.»

Following the Tennessee Holler story on Thursday and subsequent coverage by other media outlets, including NBC News, McClure said she received an outpouring of support on social media and has felt «very special» since the news broke.

He also said McNally was among those who contacted him since the Tennessee Holler story broke Thursday. He described the communication as «just a message to me saying thank you for being nice to everyone.»

When asked about McNally’s televised apology, McClure said that «it’s sad» that McNally felt the need to apologize.

“He appreciated my posts, for whatever reason, and I don’t think you should be ashamed. I think he talks about Tennessee, he talks about Republicans and homophobes,” he said. “I think it’s sad that we live in a society where we can’t all be friends, right? We can’t just love and appreciate each other for who we are, instead of thinking that we have to change each other.»

Tennessee Republicans have proposed more than two dozen bills so far this year that focus on LGBTQ rights, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, which is following the legislation. Asked if he’d like to send a message to McNally and other lawmakers in his home state who support such measures, McClure said, «Nobody’s hurting anybody by wearing a wig,» referring specifically to the drag bill.

He then added, referring to another bill signed by the governor prohibiting transition-related care for minors, including puberty blockers, hormone therapy, and surgery, «Just because you think someone, a child or whoever, shouldn’t be able to transition doesn’t mean you should be able to force that on someone else.»

Asked by NewsChannel 5 if he thinks the controversy affects his ability to lead, he said: «I hope not.» As to whether he has considered resigning, McNally said: “I think that really depends on the members of the Senate. I would serve at their pleasure, and they are my boss.»

As for McClure, he is currently raising money to move to Los Angeles, where he hopes to become a successful artist and a «male version» of rapper Doja Cat, whom he called his inspiration.

Por admin