Dolly Parton is an icon in the gay and transgender community. Two of the most popular “characters” in any drag queen competition are Cher and Dolly.
Dolly once told Nightline that she once secretly entered a “drag queen look-alike contest -- and lost."
"They had a bunch of Chers and Dollys that year, so I just over-exaggerated -- made my beauty mark bigger, the eyes bigger, the hair bigger, everything," she said. "All these beautiful drag queens had worked for weeks and months getting their clothes. So I just got in the line and I just walked across, and they just thought I was some little short gay guy... but I got the least applause."
Rumors have floated around for years that Dolly is secretly gay and in a long-time relationship with childhood friend and constant companion Judy Ogle. Dolly has smacked down those rumors again and again.
“[People] just think that you just can't be that close to somebody," Parton said. "Judy and I have been best friends since we were like in the third and fourth grade… 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."
Dolly has said, "I am not gay, but if I were I would be the first one running out of the closet."
Dolly’s concerts have the distinction of attracting gay and transgender audience members right alongside Evangelical Christians. Much to some Christians’ chagrin, she has come out in support of gay marriage.
“I don't want to be controversial or stir up a bunch of trouble but people are going to love who they are going to love. I think gay couples should be allowed to marry,” she said.
Recently, she told Billboard Magazine what she thinks of Christians who judge gay people.
“[A]s far as the Christians, if people want to pass judgment, they’re already sinning. The sin of judging is just as bad as any other sin they might say somebody else is committing. I try to love everybody.
“[Gay people] know that I completely love and accept them, as I do all people. I've struggled enough in my life to be appreciated and understood. I've had to go against all kinds of people through the years just to be myself. I think everybody should be allowed to be who they are, and to love who they love. I don't think we should be judgmental. Lord, I’ve got enough problems of my own to pass judgment on somebody else.”
In fact, Dolly says her Christian values are the very reason that she stands up for LGBT equality.
“In the country field, we're brought up in spiritual homes, we're taught to 'judge not lest you be judged,' and it's always been a mystery to me how people jump all over things just to criticize, condemn and judge other people when that is so un-Christian - and they claim to be good Christians! We're supposed to love one another. We’re supposed to accept and love one another."