NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee Lt. Gov. Randy McNally announced Monday that he is "pausing" all social media activity after revelations that he repeatedly commented on posts of nearly nude photos of a young gay model and other LGBTQ personalities.
McNally, a Republican, initially stated last week that he "had no intention of stopping" when pressed about why he repeatedly commented on racy social media posts by the 20-year-old. He later issued an apology, saying it was not his intention to embarrass his friends, family or members of the legislature.
However, the 79-year-old legislative leader has since received national attention — including being parodied on Saturday Night Live — with critics accusing McNally of being hypocritical. Particularly, McNally supported legislation restricting where certain drag shows can take place.
Some of the posts that have sparked the most uproar include commenting on a photo of the man's backside, where he was wearing only underwear, saying "you can turn a rainy day into rainbow and sunshine." McNally then posted a comment using only heart and fire emojis. In a separate post, McNally posted a heart emoji of the man pulling down his underwear.
"While I see now that I should have been more careful about how my comments and activity would be perceived, my intent was always engagement and encouragement," McNally said in a statement. "For this reason, I will be pausing my social media activity in order to reflect and receive more guidance on the use of social media."
McNally added while he may have made "some mistakes," he disagreed that he had a record of being "anti-gay" and pointed to his opposition of a 2020 law that assured continued taxpayer funding of faith-based foster care and adoption agencies even if those organizations exclude LGBTQ families and others based on religious beliefs.
Yet McNally then pointed to his support of "traditional marriage" and support of bills that "keep obscenity out of the public sphere."
"There is no contradiction here," he said.
McNally, who is from Oak Ridge, became lieutenant governor in 2017. He has been a state lawmaker since the late 1970s.