One of Tennessee’s top GOP lawmakers has supported some of the red state’s most anti-LGBTQ bills—all while positively engaging with gay and trans content creators on Instagram.
On Wednesday, the Tennessee Holler broke news that Tennessee Lt. Gov. Randy McNally has used his verified Instagram account to comment on a young gay Tennessee man’s thirst traps. McNally responded to several posts from performer Franklyn McClur with heart, fire, and clap emojis, and left comments like “Super Look Finn” and “You need to be on dancing with the stars.”
On one image of McClur’s butt, McNally’s account wrote, “Finn, you can turn a rainy day into rainbows and sunshine!” McNally is also following a transgender OnlyFans creator.
When asked for comment, McNally’s team spoke of the lieutenant governor’s love of social media. “As anyone in Tennessee politics knows, Lt. Governor McNally is a prolific social media commenter,” McNally spokesperson Adam Kleinheider told VICE News in a statement. “He 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.”
“Trying to imply something sinister or inappropriate about a great-grandfather’s use of social media says more about the mind of the left-wing operative making the implication than it does about Randy McNally,” Kleinheider added about the 79-year-old politician.
This disconnect between McNally’s politics and social media preferences is undeniable, however: Tennessee is leading the country with more than 20 anti-LGBTQ bills introduced so far for this legislative session, including a trans healthcare ban that criminalizes gender-affirming care for minors as child abuse and a bill that bans drag shows. McNally was presiding over the state’s Senate as senate speaker when both bills were passed. They were signed into law earlier this month by Gov. Bill Lee.
McClur, 20, told the Tennessee Holler that he first became friends with McNally through Facebook mutuals years ago. McClur said McNally then got his Instagram and has been commenting since. “I just thought he was older and out of touch. I’ve always taken it as a compliment. I don’t dislike him or think he’s a bad person, he’s one of the only people who has consistently uplifted me and made me feel good,” McClur said.
When asked about McNally’s politics, McClur said he’s not a political person, so he didn’t realize the disconnect between the Lieutenant Governor’s politics and his Instagram activity. “It’s wrong to ban drag, wrong to ban anything that isn’t hurting anyone. I don’t support hate of any kind,” McClur said.
This isn’t the first time a Tennessee GOP lawmaker has displayed a personal life at odds with his politics. A photograph of Gov. Lee wearing drag in 1977 surfaced days after Lee signed the country’s first drag ban into law earlier this month.
LGBTQ advocacy group Human Rights campaign took out a full-page ad in the Tennessean this week with a blown up image of Lee in drag. “When you attack our rights, we will call out your hypocrisy at every turn,” the organization tweeted.
“Tennessee Governor Bill Lee is set to sign a bill that bans and criminalizes drag across the Volunteer State. Under this law, Governor Lee himself would face prosecution and jail time for his decision to dress up as a “hard luck woman” in high school,” tweeted Tennessean Democrat Christopher Hale. “Nice legs though!”