This Is Why I Love Dolly Parton

Sometimes you just know a situation is going to work out exactly right. Such was the case two weeks ago when a lesbian couple from Knoxville, TN faced discrimination from an employee at Dollywood. Here’s the story from the local NBC affiliate.

“I was in disbelief. I didn’t think it was the policy of Dollywood to discriminate against the LGBT community,” said Odom.

She said the front gate host asked her to take off her t-shirt and turn it inside out.

“I looked at him and I was like really? He said ‘This is a family park,'” she said.

Her t-shirt read “Marriage is so Gay.” The shirt raises money for an organization that promotes gay marriage.

If this had happened at Disney World or most any other theme park, I would have been worried. After I saw that it was Dollywood, though, I decided to hang back a bit.

That instinct was proven correct yesterday when Dolly Parton personally responded to the incident with an outright apology and a restated commitment to correct the situation. From ABC News Radio:

Dolly Parton has released a statement to ABC News apologizing for the incident. The statement reads:

dolly-parton-together“I am truly sorry for the hurt or embarrassment regarding the gay and lesbian t-shirt incident at Dollywood’s Splash Country recently. Everyone knows of my personal support of the gay and lesbian community. Dollywood is a family park and all families are welcome.” Dolly adds that the policies on clothing or signs with profanity or controversial messages are in place to protect the person wearing the shirt and keep disturbances at the park to a minimum. Dolly concludes saying, “I am looking further into the incident and hope and believe it was more policy than insensitivity. I am very sorry it happened at all.”

Everybody involved in this incident did absolutely the right thing, with the exception of the employee who had a problem with the t-shirt. Odom and Tipton moderated their response to a company owned by a long-time straight ally, the folks at Dollywood made overtures to speak with Odom and Tipton rather than just brushing them off, the Campaign for Southern Equality offered to meet with the Dollywood representatives and come to an acceptable solution.

And, of course, Dolly was just… Dolly.

(Here’s her latest video, just released in July. The song is Together You And I.)


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