Tennessee GOP Lieutenant Governor Randy McNally has said that he will take a break from social media after it was revealed that he repeatedly commented on LGBTQ personalities’ Instagram posts.
Mr McNally, 79, said in a statement on Monday that he plans to “pause” all social media activity, the Associated Press reported. It comes just a week after he said he “had no intention of stopping” when questioned about comments he made on a 20-year-old gay man’s racy Instagram post.
“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,” the statement read.
“For this reason, I will be pausing my social media activity in order to reflect and receive more guidance on [its] use.”
Mr McNally’s Instagram account, which was previously public, has since been made private. The Republican lieutenant governor came under scrutiny last week after the Tennessee Holler uncovered his interactions with LGBT+ models on his work Instagram account.
In one post that showed the 20-year-old’s backside, with him only wearing underwear, Mr McNally first commented “you can turn a rainy day into rainbow and sunshine,” and then added heart and fire emojis in a separate comment.
In another video of the man dancing, Mr McNally commented “Love it”, along with floating heart emojis. Mr McNally also wrote, “super beautiful,” in a trans adult performer’s photo.
The lieutenant governor later apologised and said he did not mean to embarrass his friends, family or members of the legislature.
A spokesperson also said Mr McNally is a “prolific social media commenter” who frequently posts encouraging messages to many of his followers, but does not always use the “proper emoji at the proper time.”
Mr McNally, who has been a state lawmaker since the late 1970s, has been accused of being hypocritical after he helped pass a bill that criminalises taking part in an “adult cabaret performance” featuring “male or female impersonators” in public property or anywhere else a minor could see them.
In an interview with NewsChannel 5, Mr McNally said not “a whole lot” should be taken away from his comments and that he had simply tied to “encourage people” with his comments.
“I’m really, really sorry if I’ve embarrassed my family, embarrassed my friends, embarrassed any of the members of the legislature with the posts,” he said in an interview that aired on 9 March. “It was not my intent … to hurt them.”
During the interview, he also noted that he opposed a bill allowing adoption agencies to discriminate against gay couples in 2020.
Mr McNally said that he has received support from both Republican and Democrat colleagues and that whether or not he should resign is up to the members of the Senate.