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Dolly Parton issues apology following gay t-shirt incident at Dollywood

Monday, August 1, 2011

Country music entertainer and theme-park entrepreneur Dolly Parton has issued a public apology to a lesbian couple who claimed they were discriminated against recently when an employee at the Tennessee theme park “Dollywood” told one of the women that her “Marriage is so Gay” t-shirt was offensive to other visitors.

Dolly Records

Dolly Parton

Olivier Odom and Jennifer Tipton, who married last year, said they were “in disbelief” when a gate host denied Odom admittance to the park until she changed her shirt.

Now Parton has released a statement to ABC News apologizing for the incident.

“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.”

Following the incident, Odom sent a letter last month to Dollywood officials, asking them to “implement policies that are inclusive of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people; conduct staff sensitivity training; and issue a public statement indicating that the park is inclusive of all families.”

The theme park, located in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., is owned by Parton and the Herschend Family Entertainment Corporation.

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36 more reader comments:

  1. Good to know she still supports LGBT people :)

    Posted on Monday, August 1, 2011 at 5:33pm
  2. She has always been a class act. Thanks Dolly!

    Posted on Monday, August 1, 2011 at 5:34pm
  3. THANK YOU DOLLY

    Posted on Monday, August 1, 2011 at 5:36pm
  4. An apology is nice and all but a refund and an apology would be better.

    Posted on Monday, August 1, 2011 at 5:37pm
  5. well all know dolly loves us

    Posted on Monday, August 1, 2011 at 5:40pm
  6. Took long enough.

    Posted on Monday, August 1, 2011 at 5:41pm
  7. I knew she would apologise. Because she’s always been gay friendly and appreciated her LGBT fans.

    Posted on Monday, August 1, 2011 at 5:42pm
  8. “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.”

    THIS DOESN’T MAKE IT ANY BETTER. POLICY!? POLICY?!!? Fuck you, apology denied.

    Posted on Monday, August 1, 2011 at 5:43pm
  9. Bullshit, Just like any other owner of a huge corporation When she found out about it she fixed it.I knew she would,Dolly is well loved and theres a reason for that.She loves people,and she would’nt put up with rudeness or that kind of thing in her knowledge.

    Posted on Monday, August 1, 2011 at 5:45pm
  10. you’re only as good as your employees

    Posted on Monday, August 1, 2011 at 5:51pm
  11. good for you, dolly.

    Posted on Monday, August 1, 2011 at 5:55pm
  12. Anyone who knows and follows dolly, like I have for 25 years knows that Dolly LOVES her gays and fully supports equality. I had no doubt in my mind that she wouldnt do this. Thank ya Dolly!

    Posted on Monday, August 1, 2011 at 5:57pm
  13. love that Dolly.

    Posted on Monday, August 1, 2011 at 6:06pm
  14. love that Dolly.

    Posted on Monday, August 1, 2011 at 6:06pm
  15. Whos dolly?

    Posted on Monday, August 1, 2011 at 6:10pm
  16. Whos dolly?

    Posted on Monday, August 1, 2011 at 6:10pm
  17. She’s a class act. That’s who.

    Posted on Monday, August 1, 2011 at 6:12pm
  18. She’s a class act. That’s who.

    Posted on Monday, August 1, 2011 at 6:12pm
  19. who’s Dolly!! lmao!!

    Posted on Monday, August 1, 2011 at 6:19pm
  20. who’s Dolly!! lmao!!

    Posted on Monday, August 1, 2011 at 6:19pm
  21. CLASSY LADY!

    Posted on Monday, August 1, 2011 at 6:30pm
  22. CLASSY LADY!

    Posted on Monday, August 1, 2011 at 6:30pm
  23. Giselle, its people like you that are a complete total embarrassment to our community. You’re bitter and hateful, and that’s notthe gay and lesbian community !!! Dolly has been and is a huge supporter of the gay community. She supports and loves us. She’s been on the cover of “Out”, has appeared in person at the GLAAD media awards, has been on the cover A & U magazine and has offered helped with countless gay organization. and SUPPORTS GAY MARRIAGE!!! Giselle get a life.

    Posted on Monday, August 1, 2011 at 6:53pm
  24. Dolly, you’re the top!!! Imagine, red necks in Tennessee!!!!!

    Posted on Monday, August 1, 2011 at 6:53pm
  25. Dolly, you’re the top!!! Imagine, red necks in Tennessee!!!!!

    Posted on Monday, August 1, 2011 at 6:53pm
  26. Way to go Dolly! You can not blame dolly over some idiot that works the gate. I have been there several times with my partner and have never had any problems. I do believe she had every right to wear the shirt!

    Posted on Monday, August 1, 2011 at 7:06pm
  27. YES DOLLY MAKE A APPEARANCE AT WILTON MANORS AND DO A DUET WIT ME SHOW UR LUV TO THE GAY COMMNITY WE LUV U!!!!

    Posted on Monday, August 1, 2011 at 7:39pm
  28. I knew she would…

    Posted on Monday, August 1, 2011 at 7:47pm
  29. c’mon Dolly! nice…

    Posted on Monday, August 1, 2011 at 7:52pm
  30. Always knew you were a friend!

    Posted on Monday, August 1, 2011 at 8:58pm
  31. From what I read right here, this seems like a misunderstanding. It could’ve happened that the security guard simply misunderstood the point of the shirt, thinking it was using “gay” in a derogatory way, and denied Odom entrance because xe thought it would be offensive to any LGBT visitors. But then again, this is the only thing I’ve read about this incident. I could be wrong. But it seems to me that everyone’s jumping on this, assuming that the guard was ignorant and offensive, when it could easily have been a misunderstanding. Because honestly, if I didn’t know about the “Marriage is So Gay” shirts, and wasn’t crazy educated about the queer community, I’d think they were offensive. But I do know the purpose behind them, and I *am* crazy educated about the LGBTetc. community. I should look into it more, but I really don’t have the time or energy to. So can someone correct me if I’m wrong here?

    Posted on Monday, August 1, 2011 at 10:43pm
  32. Love you Dolly!!!!

    Posted on Tuesday, August 2, 2011 at 2:30pm
  33. No fuck you! How cAn you blame Dolly for what an idiot that works there does. She does not run the park! She pays people to run it.

    Posted on Tuesday, August 2, 2011 at 2:47pm
  34. Anyone who knows Dolly knows that she is fully and openly supportive of equality and dignity for homosexual Americans. Love ya Dolly!

    Posted on Wednesday, August 3, 2011 at 12:15am
  35. I know I’ll get hate for this but I agree that the t-shirt doesn’t belong in a family-oriented theme park. But before you get your panties in a bunch … how can you claim that phrase “that is so gay” to be offensive (see wanda sykes commercial – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sWS0GVOQPs0) and then turn around a complain when someone is busted for it just because that person happens to be gay?

    Posted on Wednesday, August 3, 2011 at 3:31pm
  36. Thank you so much Dolly. I have been a fan for years. Love your music, followed you in your movies and have made a visit to your park where I had a blast. I hate this happened to this couple but I want to say how proud I am to say I am one of your fans. You’re standing up for what is right and saying “all is welcome” and it means a lot to us!! You’re a beautiful person, inside and out and God Bless you!! Thanks for your support in the fight for gay rights :-)

    Posted on Saturday, October 22, 2011 at 2:15pm