Tennessee Governor Randy McNally has said he will take a break from social media after it was revealed he repeatedly commented on LGBTQ posts on Instagram.
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 saying he “has no intention of stopping” when asked about comments he made under a racy Instagram post by a 20-year-old gay man.
“While I now see that I should have been more careful about how my comments and actions were perceived, it was always my intention to engage and encourage,” the statement read.
“For this reason, I am suspending my social media activity to reflect and receive more guidance [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 Tennessee Holler discovered his interactions with LGBT+ models on his corporate Instagram account.
In one post that showed the 20-year-old’s ass wearing nothing but underwear, Mr. McNally first commented “you can turn a rainy day into a rainbow and sunshine” before adding a heart and fire emoji in a separate comment.
In another dancing man video, McNally commented “Love it” along with a floating heart emoji. Mr McNally also wrote “super beautiful” on a photo of a transgender person.
The lieutenant governor later apologized and said he did not want to embarrass his friends, family or members of parliament.
The spokesman also said Mr McNally is a “prolific social media commentator” who often posts encouraging messages to many of his followers but doesn’t always use the “right emoji at the right time”.
Mr. McNally, who has been a state attorney since the late 1970s, has been accused of hypocrisy after helping pass a bill that criminalizes “adult cabaret performances” involving “male or female impersonators” on public property or elsewhere minors could see them.
In an interview with NewsChannel 5, McNally said that “much” should not be removed from his comments, and that he was simply attached to “encouraging people” with his comments.
“Really, I’m very sorry if I’ve embarrassed my family, my friends, if I’ve embarrassed any member of parliament with my posts,” he said in an interview aired on March 9. “It wasn’t my intention… to hurt them.”
During the interview, he also indicated that he was opposed to a bill allowing adoption agencies to discriminate against gay couples in 2020.
Mr McNally said he has received support from both Republican and Democrat colleagues and whether he should resign is up to members of the Senate.