The young gay man whose Instagram pictures drew the attention of Tennessee’s lieutenant governor says the politician has been communicating with him for almost three years.
Franklin McClure, 20, told New York magazine’s blog The Cut that Lt. Gov. Randy McNally has been leaving him Instagram comments since McClure was 17, in addition to sending him direct messages “checking on my mental health, compliments, and random things about his life and what he’s going through.”
McClure said that when McNally began commenting on the young man’s posts, “I didn’t even know what a damn lieutenant governor was … I was thinking, It’s kind of random, but I’m grateful that someone’s being nice to me. You could look at a heart-eye emoji and think someone is telling you that they have a crush on you, I guess. But it’s also valid for someone to just be saying you’re pretty or you look good.”
“Randy never asked me for nudes,” McClure added. “He never asked me to date. I really don’t have anything to be angry about.”
Many people, however, are angry at McNally, who’s a Republican, and calling him a hypocrite for complimenting McClure’s posts while supporting anti-LGBTQ+ legislation. McNally recently wrote on McClure’s Instagram, “Finn, you can turn a rainy day into rainbows and sunshine,” using McClure’s nickname. The lieutenant governor also posted heart and fire emojis. He has said he was simply encouraging the young man.
McNally has put “likes” on several of McClure’s posts as well, including one where McClure wrote about getting weed in exchange for blow jobs. McClure has said that was a joke, and McNally said he didn’t recall the part about weed. Sometimes he doesn’t read posts thoroughly, the politician told a Tennessee TV station, although he acknowledged he may have read McClure’s remark about the difference between a slut and a prostitute. The lieutenant governor has commented favorably on posts by some other LGBTQ+ social media users as well.
But Tennessee has recently enacted several anti-LGBTQ+ laws, such as banning gender-affirming care for transgender youth and restricting drag shows. Other homophobic and transphobic bills are pending, including one that could allow county clerks to deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples and others who offend the clerks’ religious beliefs. In Tennessee, the lieutenant governor is also a voting member of the state Senate.
McClure told The Cut that if he gets a chance to speak with McNally, he would probably mention the drag bill. “Taking away someone’s way of expressing themselves is evil,” he said. But he also said he’d ask the 79-year-old politician about the state of his health. “I have compassion for everyone because I know how it feels to be hated on,” McClure said.
McClure told another outlet, Memphis TV station WMC, that if anyone is kind enough to compliment him, that person should also be kind enough not to support legislation that would hurt him. He went on to say that he asked McNally about jobs in the lieutenant governor’s office, for which the young man knows he’s not qualified, but McNally seemed enthused about the possibility. McNally did not respond to the station’s request for comment.
McClure grew up in Tennessee but now lives in North Carolina, and he wants to move to Los Angeles to realize his ambition of becoming the “male Doja Cat,” he told The Cut. He’s hoping his newfound fame will help him raise some money. He said he didn’t know how McNally first became aware of him, but it could have been from his musical theater performances at a venue in Oak Ridge, which is in McNally’s district.
He said he’s changing the spelling of his last name to McClur. News outlets have given various spellings of his first name — some Franklin, some Franklyn. His Instagram handle is @franklynsuperstar.