In a new interview, Dolly Parton talks candidly about her experiences with gay family members and how she feels about her LGBT fans.
Dolly Parton admits to being exposed to gay family members at a very early age, but she didn’t realize it at the time. “I didn’t know they were at the time! We were just mountain people, and I did not know at that time – I sure did not.”
“In my early days we did not know (what gay was). It didn’t take me long to know that people were different and that was always fine with me,” Parton shares. “I was different too, and I embraced and accepted them and I knew them. I knew them well.”
“Later on, I did find out I have many gays and lesbians in my own family. We accept them, we embrace them,” she says.
Parton admits that it isn’t always easy for people who are gay in that part of the country.
“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,” Parton believes. “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.”
Dolly Parton herself has supported many loved ones through their coming out process. “Actually, I’ve had many people through the years who I have helped to feel good about themselves. 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 adds: “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.”
Parton holds her gay family, friends, and fans in high esteem. She emotionally says: “I certainly know that the gay people I know are the most sensitive and most caring of all. I think they go through so much that they have to live with their feelings on their sleeve.”
She adds: “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. Most of the gays I know just want to make the world a more beautiful place like I do.”