Dolly apologizes for shirt incident at theme park

Way back on July 20, we posted this story about a lesbian couple who were on their way into Dollywood’s Splash Country, the Tennessee theme park co-owned by country music legend — and gay rights supporter —  Dolly Parton, when a park employee at the front gate told Olivier Odom that she would either have to turn her t-shirt inside-out or change shirts. Odom’s shirt bore the message “Marriage is So Gay,” and the park employee told her Dollywood is a “family park” and that shirts with offensive messages are not allowed.

Dolly Parton

Odom and her partner, Jennifer Tipton, were there with friends who had their children along for the fun. So rather than spoil the day for the kids, Odom agreed to turn the shirt inside out. But she was still rather offended, and ended up writing a letter of complaint to the park’s management.

Being a huge Dolly Parton fan, I was rather disturbed that Odom’s shirt had been deemed offensive by employees at a venue so closely associated with Dolly. So I was really glad today to see this story from Edge Boston saying that Dolly had publicly apologized for the situation. Dolly, by the way, told Joy Behar on CNN in 2009 that she supports marriage equality.

The article says Dolly contacted ABC News with a statement that said, in part, “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.”

She also said that the policy is in place to protect people wearing garments with messages that might make some angry, that she is looking into the incident herself, that she “hope[s] and believe[s] it was more policy than insensitivity” and that she is “very sorry it happened at all.”

So, here’s a big thank-you to Dolly for, first of all, acknowledging that even though our LGBT families might not look like “traditional” families, we are still families who deserve respect and recognition. Thanks, Dolly,  for being a public and vocal supporter of LGBT rights, especially since your core audience in country-western music are not known for being the most open-minded bunch. And thanks for restoring my faith in you, Dolly.

And now, for all you Dolly fans, like me, here’s a video of her singing her Academy Award-nominated song, “Travelin’ Thru,” which she wrote for the movie TransAmerica:

—  admin

C.U.R.E. announces huge AIDS Quilt display for 2011

Display in Plano will be largest in more than a decade, with at least 500 panels included, organizers say

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer taffet@dallasvoice.com

TIME TO REMEMBER | Visitors walk through a display of panels from the NAMES Project Quilt exhibited Wednesday, Dec. 1, at the Interfaith Peace Chapel as part of a World AIDS Day event. Next September, C.U.R.E. will bring more than 500 Quilt panels to Plano for the largest display in a decade. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

PLANO — C.U.R.E. will bring at least 500 panels of the Names Project’s AIDS Memorial Quilt to the Dallas Convention Center next September for the largest display since the entire Quilt was shown on the Mall in Washington, D.C. in 1996, according to C.U.R.E. leaders.

The Plano-based group made the announcement at their World AIDS Day event at Event1013 in Plano, where they displayed 13 blocks of the Quilt. They placed other panels at several other corporate headquarters located in Plano.

C.U.R.E. President and founder Rosemarie Odom said that one of those companies, Pepsico, has signed to be the lead sponsor of the Quilt display next year.

She said they are tentatively set to display the panels in Exhibit Hall F of the Convention Center from Sept. 30 through Oct. 2.

Tyler Sweatman is the event director. He said that the dates were chosen to correspond with LifeWalk. He’s hoping Lone Star Ride, which will take place the weekend before the event, will also participate.

“We’d love LifeWalk to walk right through the Convention Center,” said Odom.

Sweatman said that they will be requesting specific panels and will be taking requests from the community. He said it would be easier to get more of the requested panels in September than around next year’s World AIDS Day.

Sweatman said he was living in San Francisco in 1987 when Cleve Jones started the project. He watched the sewing going on in a little shop on Castro Street to memorialize friends who had died of AIDS.

Sweatman said he is amazed at how much the Quilt grew in just a few years.

The Quilt now has 91,000 names representing 17.5 percent of those who have died of AIDS in the United States. The Quilt was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 and, at 1,293,300 square feet, is the largest piece of folk art ever produced. It weighs 54 tons.

Each panel is three feet by six feet, the size of a coffin. Eight panels are sewn together to form a block.  Several years ago, the Quilt moved from its original home in San Francisco to Atlanta. Sweatman said he expects the Quilt eventually to be housed in the Smithsonian.

The first day of the 2011 Quilt display is a Friday, and Sweatman said he hopes school groups from around North Texas as well as Oklahoma and Arkansas will come to see the display.

“Our goal is AIDS education,” he said.

To encourage the most people to see the Quilt, admission will be free. But staging the event will be costly. The group, which has non-profit status, is looking for additional sponsors and donations.

In addition to the cost of shipping the Quilt back and forth from Atlanta, there is the rental of the Convention Center, advertising, lighting and sound equipment.

During large displays, the names of persons who have died of AIDS are continuously read.

Volunteers are needed as Quilt monitors. Sweatman said he would especially like people who made any of the quilt panels or those who knew the people represented on the panels to talk about who they were.

Bono’s group ONE will coordinate volunteers. Sweatman said details are being worked out and will have more information about that and about volunteer opportunities soon.

Odom was excited about the opportunity to present such a large piece of the Quilt in Dallas. She became emotional standing in front of one of the 13 blocks hanging in Plano on World AIDS Day and warned about what an emotional experience the large display in September would be.

“I don’t want anyone to walk away from one of our events feeling good,” she said.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 3, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

Panels from AIDS quilt on display in Plano

Lavonne Barrows points to a quilt panel she made in 2004

Panels from the Names Project’s AIDS Memorial Quilt will hang at Event1013 in Plano through Wednesday, Dec. 1, World AIDS Day.

Among the 13 panels are those from AIDS Services of Dallas and the Round-Up Saloon.

Lavonne Barrows is a quilt monitor. Her son has been HIV-positive for 20 years. Along with C.U.R.E. President Rosemary Odom, she made several of the panels hanging in Plano. The panels she made honor children from the Bless Gerard’s Children’s Home in Mandeni kwaZulu/Natal, South Africa. The panels were sewn in 2004 and presented to the Names Project on World AIDS Day that year.

Odom explained that they had gotten permission to honor the orphanage’s children who died of AIDS. About a year later, the couple who ran the home was ambushed and murdered.

The display is presented by Community Unity Respect Education, or C.U.R.E., a Plano-based group that educates about AIDS through displays of the Quilt.

Event1013, 1013 E. 15th St., Plano. Nov. 29-30 until 4:30 p.m. Dec. 1 from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. followed by a reception from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Free parking is available in a lot across the street that is accessible from 14th Street.

—  David Taffet

CCGLA elects board

Colling County Gay and Lesbian Alliance Board
ALL A BOARD | The Collin County Gay and Lesbian Alliance elected a new board of directors at the organization’s recent annual meeting at Collin County College. Board members are, standing from left, John Perez, Roseann Rossetti, Belinda Carmikle, Morris Garcia, Scott Smith, Jeanne Rubin and Bob Schimmin; and seated from left, Rosemarie Odom and Jane Schmidt-Ahsan. Not pictured is Ron Turner. The new board has already met to begin planning the organization’s first program of the summer, the sold-out Party Barge on Lake Lewisville.

—  Kevin Thomas