Dolly Parton embraces the support she has received from the LGBTQ community, singing their praises in a new interview. She also revealed that she has gay and lesbian family members, although it took some years for that to become evident.
“We were just mountain people, and I did not know at that time – I sure did not,” she told PrideSource when asked if she knew any gay people growing up.
She recalled hearing a couple of men downtown being called “queers,” as a teenager, which she thought just meant they were different.
“It didn’t take me long to know that people were different and that was always fine with me ’cause I was different too, and I embraced and accepted them and I knew them. I knew them well,” Parton remembered. “But no, in my early days I did not know. But I know a lot of them now! I have a huge gay and lesbian following and I’m proud of ’em, I love ’em and I think everybody should be themselves and be allowed to be themselves whoever they are, whatever they are.”
She said she would eventually learn that there were gay members of her own family.
“And later on, I did find out I have many gays and lesbians in my own family. We accept them, we embrace them. Oh, there are some in the mountains who still don’t know quite what to make of it or how they should feel about it, but they’re ours and they’re who they are and we know they’re wonderful and they’re like us. We love the fact that they are who they are and we nurture that. We don’t try to make them feel separate or different. We embrace it,” she said.
She has even helped usher people out of the closet.
“I say, ‘You need to let people know who you are and you need to come on out. You don’t need to live your life in darkness – what’s the point in that? You’re never gonna be happy; you’re gonna be sick. You’re not gonna be healthy if you try to suppress your feelings and who you are,’” she recounted.
Parton also reported having transgender members of her staff.
“Whether it’s about being gay or whatever, a lot of people do me like they used to do my mama and come to talk to me about things. Hopefully I’m able to help. I think I have,” she said.
“They’ve had to go through so much that I think they’re very emotional and tenderhearted and more open to feelings, so I’ve just learned the same things I try to learn from everybody. I know they’re good people and I’ve tried to learn from that as well. They’re very creative, most of them. And I think that also comes from just embracing the fact that they’re different. Most of the gays I know just want to make the world a more beautiful place like I do,” she said when asked what she has learned from the gay people in her life.
Parton is currently on tour supporting her album “Pure & Simple.”