Discrimination | Dolly Parton | News

Lesbian Couple Claims Dollywood Discriminated Over 'Marriage Is So Gay' Shirt:' Video

DollyPartonPark Dolly Parton has a history of pro-equality politics. The employees at her Tennessee-based amusement park? Not so much.

Lesbian couple Olivia Odom and Jennifer Tipton took their children to Dollywood's Splash park earlier this month and found themselves stopped at the gate for Odom's "Marriage is So Gay" t-shirt, which employees told her to remove or turn inside out.

"I looked at him and I was like really? He said 'This is a family park,'" Odom told local NBC affiliate WBIR.

"I was in disbelief. I didn't think it was the policy of Dollywood to discriminate against the LGBT community," she said. "I was curious what he found offensive about the shirt. If it was the fact that it had the word gay on it or that it was in conjunction with the word marriage."

Odom also pointed out that at least one other patron was wearing a t-shirt bearing a Confederate flag, but in the end, she turned her shirt inside out, lest she ruin the children's trip.

A park spokesperson explained to The Advocate that the park'ss "front gate hosts are asked to enforce our dress code policy."

"It doesn’t have anything to do with who the people are or what their belief system is or with anything other than the fact that we try to prevent as best as we can upon entry of the park one of our guests being offended by something someone else is wearing," said Pete Owens. He also described the incident as a "misunderstanding" and vowed to call Odom and Tipton to further discuss the situation.

Parton was not available for comment, but something tells me she'll be less than pleased by the news.  

Watch WBIR's report on Odom's story, AFTER THE JUMP...

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  1. "It doesn’t have anything to do with who the people are or what their belief system is or with anything other than the fact that we try to prevent as best as we can upon entry of the park one of our [nice white] guests being offended by something someone else is wearing,"

    Confederate Fag? Hell no.
    Confederate Flag? Hell yes!

    Posted by: Lew | Jul 23, 2011 10:20:40 AM

  2. Id love to go to Dollywood - but I refuse to spend my tourism money in a Hate state Like TN.

    Posted by: Disgusted American | Jul 23, 2011 10:26:09 AM

  3. The dress code in part says: "Clothing with offensive words and/or pictures will not be permitted inside the park."

    So, that appears to be left up to the employee at the gate. So what was offensive about the shirt?

    The dress code also states: "Female guests must wear t-shirts, tank tops, halter-tops, opaque shirts, blouses, or dresses that are buttoned at least 2/3 of the way up from the waist..."

    So Dolly herself shouldn't be able to get into her own park with her ginormous tatas hanging out like they usually are.

    Posted by: Beef and Fur | Jul 23, 2011 10:44:09 AM

  4. Saw Dolly last night at the Hollywood Bowl. After singing "Coat of Many Colors" with lyrics about being picked on for wearing it, she talked about how those feelings of being bullied for being different (poor) inspired her to write it and (I don't remember her exact words) she has been told it's a healing song for others who felt the same way and that everyone should be able to be proud of who they are.

    I'm guessing she most definitely would not be pleased.

    Posted by: Peter Friend | Jul 23, 2011 11:12:23 AM

  5. Truthfully, Ms. Parton won't get involved in this. She is NOT supportive of gays or gay rights. She DOES know who her fans are and will say just enough, and very vaguely, to sound as though she is with us, but she is not.

    She loves to throw out how she "loves everybody" and such nice little buzzwords, but she has NEVER come out as a full-on supporter for our community, and the sooner we realize that she isn't on our side, the better.

    Posted by: Lee | Jul 23, 2011 11:37:57 AM

  6. Been to Dollywood many times with a boyfriend and never had a single issue including when we were holding hands in the park.

    Posted by: Roger | Jul 23, 2011 11:42:59 AM

  7. Just another story of homophobes wanting to closet any and all indications of anything relating to "gay". Gay=offensive, so gay needs to be hidden. I'll be very interested to hear what Dolly P. has to say.

    Posted by: Francis | Jul 23, 2011 12:33:45 PM

  8. I just saw a movie, "From Hollywood to Dollywood" and Dolly Parton seems to be VERY gay friendly.


    The movie was made by 2 twin brothers (the Lane twins).

    YES, Dolly is going to be very mad about this.

    Posted by: FunMe | Jul 23, 2011 12:49:37 PM


    believe it or not there are gay people in tennessee! we are tryin!

    Posted by: Justin | Jul 23, 2011 1:09:50 PM

  10. I thought the offensive part was saying "[x] is so gay". Or are we over that now?

    Posted by: Wait... | Jul 23, 2011 3:40:33 PM

  11. LOL, I love that this is a single incident about a tee-shirt, and all of a sudden, people are avoiding Tennessee and calling Dolly Parton anti-gay.

    Posted by: Gregoire | Jul 23, 2011 3:42:05 PM

  12. Hang on a second, aren't we not allowed to say "[x] is so gay" anymore because its a mortal insult? Maybe the employees have also been given those instructions, and carried them out to the letter.

    Posted by: NaughtyLola | Jul 23, 2011 4:58:49 PM

  13. Very good observation, Naughty Lola.

    Posted by: Andrew Belonsky | Jul 23, 2011 5:07:59 PM

  14. @Lee

    how can you say this? Have you heard Dolly speaking out about gay marriage??? For years she's been an advocate. Google Dolly and Melissa Etheridge interview. She is incredibly supportive and has been actually quote outspoken.

    She's not just a drag queen like SOME women who cater only to their gay male fans, but she routinely performs with out lesbians and ...argh, nevermind.

    Don't pick on Dolly!

    Posted by: Rin | Jul 23, 2011 5:55:39 PM

  15. I'm with you, Naughtylola. Waiting now for Dolly to chime in. And she will for sure!

    Posted by: Throwslikeagirl | Jul 23, 2011 6:38:11 PM

  16. Dolly Parton being gay-friendly is like Bullwinkle being moose-friendly. There, I said it. But I can imagine the reaction:

    (Sarcasm Alert)

    Oh, but it can't be! Get me my smelling salts! Dolly, a luhhh-, a luhhhhs- oh, I can't say it! But she has big boob jobs, lip implants, gigantic hair... everything to attract men! She doesn't wear Birkenstocks or short, spiky hair, so she can't be a... a you-know-what! Don't tell me she's a lesbian, because if she were, she would surely take a hit on her billion dollar enterprises and come out. Dolly is just supportive of us, an advocate, a totally straight ally. Like Oprah Winfrey or Hillary Clinton.

    Posted by: ProfessorVP | Jul 23, 2011 7:35:19 PM

  17. I grew up in the area, and trust me, I'd say at least a third of Dollywood's employees are GLBT.

    I suspect NaughtyLola is on to something, above: saying something "...is so gay" can also be read as insulting to gays as it uses "gay" in the way its often used as a pejorative. Note this woman wasn't wearing a shirt that just said something like "Support Marriage Equality."

    You had a whole media campaign of gays and gay allies like Wanda Sykes trying to put an end to using the phrase "that's so gay," so I'd have to wonder if we should immediately assume that Dollywood nixed the shirt for anti-gay reasons. In this case, it could also have been the reverse.

    Posted by: bobbyjoe | Jul 23, 2011 8:10:15 PM

  18. I'm sorry, but why is it that gay people feel like they have to rub everyone elses nose in the fact that they are gay??!!

    We can't even have a damn parade with out a bunch of half naked people running around exposing themselves!

    What does that have to do with being gay?! Oh I'm gay, so now I get to run around in my underwear in the streets in front of everyone.
    Have some pride and be respectful to those around you.
    Why would you wear a tee shirt with something like that on it if you didn't want to get attention. Well they got attention and then got mad because they got the attention they wanted....shock value. And then they want to run around crying about how they are being discriminated against.
    Be out, be proud, be respectful and climb down off the cross Dorothy!

    Posted by: J | Jul 23, 2011 11:52:06 PM

  19. The question to ask is, did the employees know the women were lesbians? How could he tell?

    Maybe they thought it was two heterosexual women condemning gays getting married. Or two anti marriage women using the word gay as a pejorative.

    "Marriage is So Gay" could be interpreted as using gay as a slur.

    Posted by: truthteller | Jul 24, 2011 7:33:33 AM

  20. This is the state that founded the Ku Klux Klan. This is the state that tried a school teacher for teaching evolution. Further questions?

    Posted by: wimsy | Jul 24, 2011 1:06:42 PM

  21. I am for rights for all but I see how the shirt can offend some people and the employees did what they should of not everyone thinks being gay is alright and everyone needs to respect that just as I wouldn't want someone around my kids wearing a anti gay shirt or whatever the case maybe.

    Posted by: myself | Jul 27, 2011 4:02:12 AM

  22. These gay idiots are stupid and trying to get their 5 minutes of fame. This is just like one of the many cases of a Negro trying to pull the racist card...just because they can.
    For the two gay-baits involved...get over it. You are different. You are GAY! Even the bible says it's wrong. You are ignorant. I think these two should of been shot on sight. End of story.

    Posted by: ActiveOne | Aug 5, 2011 4:46:06 PM

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