The Tennessee lieutenant governor, who recently passed several bills targeting LGBTQ people and culture, has been frequently commenting on shirtless photos of a young gay man on his verified Instagram account.

Republican Lieutenant Governor Randy McNally, who also serves as president of the state Senate, has left supportive — and possibly flirty — comments and emoji below risqué photos on social media posted by franklin mcclurea 20-year-old artist from Knoxville, who calls himself Franklyn Superstar on social media. The Tennessee Screama local publication, first reported the news Wednesday night after receiving an anonymous tip.

In response to a photo of McClure dancing outside in underwear, McNally, 79, wrote: «Love it,» with heart emojis. In another close-up photo from the back of McClure, where he is only wearing what appear to be underpantsMcNally wrote two comments: «Finn, you can turn a rainy day into rainbows and sunshine!» and another with hearts and fire emojis, to which McClure replied, «You’re literally always so kind King,» with a heart emoji. In another image, where McClure’s the shorts come down a bitMcNally commented, “Super look Finn.” Finn is McClure’s nickname, according to his Facebook page.

Tennessee Lieutenant Governor Randy McNally commented on a post by Franklin McClure.via Instagram

Adam Kleinheider, McNally’s director of communications, said that «trying to insinuate something sinister or inappropriate about a great-grandfather’s use of social media says more about the mind of the left-leaning agent insinuating than it does about Randy McNally.»

“As anyone in Tennessee politics knows, Lieutenant Governor McNally is a prolific commentator on social media,” Kleinheider said in an email to NBC News. “He tries very hard to see as many posts as he can and often posts things that are uplifting to many of his followers. Do you always use the right emoji at the right time? Maybe not. But he enjoys interacting with constituents and Tennesseans of all faiths, backgrounds and orientations on social media. He has no intention of stopping.»

Social media activity by McNally, whose Instagram bio identifies him as a conservative, has drawn criticism from LGBTQ people and advocates who have accused the one with hypocrisynoting that his state has recently taken the lead in passing community-oriented bills.

A reporter from the Tennessee Lookout asked McNally on accusations of hypocrisy following a session of the Senate on Thursday, noting that he previously sponsored legislation to ban same-sex marriage. McNally said he supported that legislation before the 2015 Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges in favor of same-sex marriage.

«I thought that marriage should be between a man and a woman, and I still feel that way,» he said Thursday.

McNally added that he has friends and a family member who are gay and tries to be supportive of many people, Lookout reported.

So far this year, Tennessee lawmakers have introduced 26 bills targeting LGBTQ people, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, which is tracking them. Last week, Gov. Bill Lee signed two of them into law: one that will criminalize some drag performances and another that prohibits certain transition-related health care, including puberty blockers, hormone therapy and surgery, for transgender minors in the state.

Last month, Lee faced criticism similar to McNally’s after a photo shared on Reddit and Twitter appeared to show the governor dressed as a woman. Lee would not confirm or deny that the photo was of him, but said it was «ludicrous» to combine the image with «sexualized entertainment in front of children, which is a very serious subject.»

McClure did not respond to a request for comment, but told Tennessee Holler that he had not previously made the connection between who McNally is and state legislation targeting LGBTQ people. He said he thought it was random that McNally commented on the photos of him, but he never took it seriously.

“I just thought he was older and out of touch,” he told Holler. “I have always taken it as a compliment. I don’t dislike him nor do I think he is a bad person, she is one of the only people who has consistently encouraged me and made me feel good.”

McClure said the two have been sending messages for years, though Holler wouldn’t say if he revealed any details about those messages. He stressed in the interview that he does not have a negative opinion of McNally, although McClure opposes the state’s efforts to restrict transitional and drag care for minors.

McNally’s record on state legislation targeting LGBTQ people has been mixed. The vote in favor of the drag bill, and he did not vote on restricting gender affirming care.

In 2020, McNally 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.» The bill, which advocates say would allow agencies to discriminate against same-sex couples, passed and Lee signed it into law.

In February 2021, according to the one from tennesseeMcNally said that while she believed that allowing transgender girls to play on girls’ and women’s sports teams at school would harm women’s sports, state lawmakers should «exercise caution.»

“Whatever we do will probably be reviewed by the federal government and they may cut funding to the state,” he said. the tennessean informed. «It’s an issue that I think we need to move very carefully with.»

In 2019, when the state considered 10 bills targeting LGBTQ people, McNally said the Senate would be «sensitive to the effect that some of them could have on businesses and events that could happen in Tennessee» and also «sensitive to the rights of the people». ”, local radio station WPLN reported.