Lt. Gov. McNally ‘pausing’ social media activity after backlash

The 79-year-old said he wants to “reflect and receive more guidance on the use of social media.”
Published: Mar. 13, 2023 at 4:55 PM EDT
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) – Tennessee Lt. Gov. Randy McNally will pause his use of social media after some critics questioned his activity on Instagram, he announced Monday afternoon.

The decision comes following backlash regarding comments McNally made on an Instagram video posted by Franklyn McClure, a 20-year-old man. In the video, McClure is wearing makeup. McNally responded with several fire emojis and the words, “Way to go Finn!!! You light up the world!!!”

The comments came into the national spotlight, with fingers pointed toward Tennessee lawmakers passing a law restricting where adult cabaret shows can take place.

“I have long been active on social media. I have made a point to engage with people not only in posts, but in comments and messages as well. My comments to Franklin (sic) McClure and others, which have recently drawn so much attention, are no different,” McNally said in a written statement. “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. I apologize for any embarrassment my postings have caused my family, friends and colleagues. 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.”

The 79-year-old acknowledged “some mistakes” he’s made while using social media but refuted claims by his critics that his voting record as a lawmaker makes him “anti-gay.”

“On a personal level, nothing could be further from the truth. I believe every person has value and deserves respect regardless of their orientation. I am 79 years old and was raised in a time when homosexuality was deeply shameful. And I absolutely still hold traditional Tennessee values dear. But I now have friends and even a relative who is gay. I have worked hard to try and understand this community better, and at the same time not compromise trying to protect children and my own values. I notably came down from the Speaker’s podium to speak against a bill that would have curtailed gay adoption. I have also supported legislation that would protect children and keep obscenity out of the public sphere. And I support traditional marriage. There is no contradiction here.”

Communications Director Adam Kleinheider said last week the controversy over McNally’s social media comments would not stop the lieutenant governor from commenting on social media. “He has no intention of stopping,” Kleinheider said in a statement last week.

However, the latest statement said McNally is stepping away from social media for now and leaves no timetable for a return.

“I would encourage everyone to look at my record in its totality. It is both thoroughly conservative and compassionate to others. Though I may disagree with specific policies of certain LGBTQ activists, all people are deserving of love and compassion, no matter their race, gender, or any other attribute.

Criticism of my social media activity is fair, and I have taken it to heart. All I ask is that people look at the facts and my actual record. Again, conservative and “anti-gay” are not synonymous. Not generally and certainly not for me,” McNally said in a statement. “While I realize it may not happen immediately, I am hopeful this examination of my social media activity will conclude and we can soon all get back to ensuring Tennessee remains the best state in the union to live, work and raise a family.”