ABC Nightline interviewed Dolly Parton on Monday night, November 26, 2012, and the main headline from the interview involves the “Dolly Parton gay rumors.” JuJu Chang asked Dolly about persistent rumors of a gay relationship between Dolly and her long-time best friend, Judy Ogle. Parton, promoting her new book, “Dream More,” answered as follows, as reported by Taste of Country:
Parton told ‘Nightline‘ correspondent JuJu Chang that people “just think that you just can’t be that close to somebody. Judy and I have been best friends since we were like in the third and fourth grade.” She categorically denied that their relationship is anything more, adding, “We still just have a great friendship and relationship and I love her as much as I love anybody in the whole world, but we’re not romantically involved.”
Oddly, folks in Dolly Parton’s home state of Tennessee have never spent much time on the gay rumors. Tennessee, also the location of Dollywood, her theme park boasting 2 1/2 million yearly visitors, hails Dolly as the “Queen of Tennessee.” When she is present at Dollywood, a big bra flies from the flagpole, and the whole park is charged with excitement!
The notoriously conservative Tennesseans are proud of what Dolly Parton has achieved and appreciative of what she has contributed not only to the economy of the state but to other facets of life, as well. For example, Dolly’s literacy program, Imagination Library, has placed 40 million books in the hands of children in Tennessee, and now across the country.
Living around an hour from Dollywood, this writer has never heard any mention of the Dolly Parton gay rumors. Tennessee is indeed smack in the middle of the Bible Belt, and a majority of the folks here are politically conservative. Tennessee has advanced legislation to keep traditional values in their schools, all the way back to the Scopes Trial in 1925! They are also fiercely independent people who don’t want anyone sticking his nose in their business, whether it is the refrigerator on the front porch or their personal lives.
This leads to the possibility that it is not the Tennessee Hillbillies who are homophobic but the mainstream, big-city media. It seems that they now operate under a policy where they widely publicize a salacious rumor, then put the responsibility on the victim to prove it false. All the while, they continue to stereotype other groups in society as homophobic or hostile to gays. This is a double standard, or as they say in Tennessee, hogwash.