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.
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: