Dolly Parton Apologizes for ‘Marriage is So Gay’ T-Shirt Incident

Dolly Parton has apologized for an incident at her theme park Dollywood in early July in which a lesbian, at the park with her wife and children, was asked to reverse a T-shirt that said "Marriage is So Gay" on it.

Dollywood Wrote Parton in a statement to ABC News:

"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."


  1. Jim says

    Love Dolly. This is a classy move. It’s big of her to apologize. It IS difficult in a world where one tries to please everyone. I wish more people could be like her.

  2. Paul R says

    No one doesn’t love her. How could you feel she has a mean bone in her body? No one is that good an actress over a very long career.

    Though the shot accompanying this article looks quite dated.

  3. says

    Given the vast majority of her customers are conservative “family values” types I think this is especially admirable of her to publicly apologize and make it clear that she supports the LGBT community.

    It’s easy to say these sorts of things when you’re preaching to the choir, but to say them when many of your fans will get upset by it is when it matters most.

  4. Joey Y says

    Even though a lot of her fans may be “family values” types, she has already made it, and would never need to back down from doing what she feels in her heart is right. That’s what makes Dolly a billion times more of a person than anyone who would have criticized this woman and her family. What are any bigots going to do? Throw out her records? They would be stupid, and everyone knows it, including them. Go Dolly!

  5. jack says

    I am not surprised at all!

    I have loved and admired Dolly for most of my life, and in many ways, I’ve felt loved in return -especially when she supports our community. She’s such a wonderful person.

  6. Denis Marshall says

    I love Dolly too, but $50 to the first person who wears a “Marriage= One Man + One Woman” shirt to the gates of Dollywood to see if they’re asked to turn it inside out. I’m betting no.

  7. Al Pryor says

    To stand up for aomeone else’s rights when not popular or business correct for most of her customers, makes this Lady a true Southerner with American hospitality.
    Thank You Dolly

  8. Robert says

    You know, I haven’t really followed this story too closely, but I commend Dolly for addressing this. I’m sure this incident wasn’t homophobic. What it sounds like is someone had an offensive t-shirt on in a family setting. Its like someone putting on a racist t-shirt and going into Disneyland. Or another perspective, a black man tries to walk into Disneyland with a shirt “Wat up Nigga”. It doesn’t excuse him for having that tshirt on in a family setting just cause he’s black. And the same goes for the lesbian who had “Marriage is so gay”. Aren’t we fighting to get rid of gay as a bad word, even in the context that it was in? Come on gays, I know you are trying to be individuals, but keep it classy. Don’t walk into family parks with anything crude on them.

    All in all, don’t wear trashy t-shirts with offensive words in a family setting.

  9. GregV says

    I love Dolly and have never doubted her commitment to kindness and fairness for everyone.
    But I don`t think this ever should have been an issue to be apologized for. I wouldn`t have been so sure myself about that shirt, and I think the wording is highly unclear and therefore in questionable taste.
    If the woman had worn a shirt that said something clearly positive like “Gay couples deserve equal marriage rights,“ she more likely would not have encountered any resistance in a friendly venue like Dollywood.

  10. Robert says

    @Gomez, “Thats so gay,” is considered offensive, and to use a shirt that uses that statement, no matter how ironically, is still considered offensive. I’m wondering if the same couple came into the park wearing decent or appropriate attire would they be treated the same? I have a feeling they wouldn’t.

  11. GregV says

    …To add an exact parallel:
    Imagine if, during the debate in Alabama on interracial marriage during the 2000 election, this same woman had entered an Alabama theme park with a shirt that said “Marriage is a black and white issue.“

    Anyone reading that shirt might be entirely unclear as to whether this person is trying to support equality or whether she might be a racist trying to accost any interracial couples at the park with a mean-spirited jab implying “stick to your own color.“
    Likewise, a gay kid (or adult) could easily read the gay shirt and wonder if it is some kind of slur against gay people.

  12. Gay Dolly Fan says

    Dollywood’s spokesperson was asked about that and confirmed in published reports yesterday that last week a guest attempted to enter the park wearing an anti-gay t-shirt and, just as happened with the lesbian couple, was asked to turn it inside out and complied.

    I’ve been to Dollywood perhaps 30 or 35 times in the past decade, and I’ve only seen homophobic actions twice. Both times, it was a redneck patron at the park upset that someone they perceived to be gay had gotten in front of them while waiting for Dolly to make an appearance, so they used the “f-word.” Both times, security was called over, told the victim they’d take care of it, told the redneck to behave or they’d be thrown out of the park, and then made sure to tell the victim loud enough for the redneck to hear that security should be called back over if the redneck caused any more trouble. So in both instances, the park stood up to homophobia and supported its LGBT patrons. Even though I understand that Dolly’s financial partners in the park are very conservative, her involvement has ensured it remains a gay friendly establishment.

    I also only saw the dress code enforced once, and that was when a drag queen tried to enter the park dressed as Dolly. (The dress code also prohibits anyone from entering the park in any type of character costume, so that’s the provision they used against the drag queen. Only Dolly can come in Dolly drag!) They did let him wear high heels and full make-up throughout the park that day — he just had to remove the Dolly wig and change out of the dress in order to gain entry into the park. He complied.

    As a gay Dolly fan, I am well aware of her many repeated public statements over the past 20 or 25 years in support of gay rights and over the past 10 or 12 years in support of same-sex marriage. She’s our most outspoken and most public advocate in the mostly-conservative country music genre. I believe this is largely due to her many close friends (including her former longtime manager) being gay, several of her close employees being gay, having an employee and close friend who’s transgendered, and having family members who are LGBT (including at least one bi sister who is in a longterm relationship with another woman). When her longtime dress designer was dying of AIDS, she had him move into her home to be cared for. When she created her film production company, its first project was “Common Threads: Stories of the AIDS Quilt,” which won the Oscar for Best Documentary. One of her two personal Academy Award nominations is for “Travelin’ Thru,” a song in which she used the metaphor of religious transformation to celebrate transgender surgery. Her gay icon credentials are beyond reproach, and it’s a shame that her good name has been tarnished by these women who are out for their 15 minutes of fame.

    That’s what it all boils down to. They didn’t just send a complaint to the park and seek to have the policy clarified, as they claimed. They contacted a gay rights advocacy group to draft a complaint they thought would get the most media attention. Then they issued it to the local media and they park simultaneously — if your goal is something other than publicity, you don’t do that — you send it to the park first and then only contact the media if you don’t get anywhere with your complaint. One local TV station took the bait and interviewed them. Then the story died for nearly a week before it got picked up by the LGBT blogosphere — suggesting that when it failed to gain traction in the media after their first attempt, the professional advocacy group made a second round of contacts to the media to try and publicize it, this time focusing on national bloggers (many of whom misreported the facts — saying it happened at Dollywood instead of the Splash Country water park next door that Dollywood owns and saying the women had been refused admission to the park, something that didn’t happen). Then it exploded after a couple of days of fury in the blogosphere and captured the attention of the mainstream media. Dolly, on a world tour, which I’m sure requires all of her attention, was not immediately available to comment, so people started criticizing her over the delay. She did compose a heartfelt apology but sent to the women themselves and gave several days to ensure they personally got it before it was released to the media, which made it look like to the public that she took much longer to apologize than she actually did. And her apology pushes this non-story back into the headlines again.

    The whole thing is unfortunate and blown way out of proportion. This was not a homophobic incident, and we must be careful to not cry wolf. Doing so only provides ammunition to anti-gay idiots who seek to harm us.

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