Dolly Parton Says Country Music Community Embracing Gay Listeners More Than They Used To

Dolly Parton has been a long-time advocate for gay rights. In an interview she did in 2014, she spoke about the progress the country music community has made as a whole toward embracing LGBTQ listeners. Simply put, the “9 to 5” singer thinks people are more educated now.

Dolly Parton performing on stage. She's in a red dress and singing into a microphone, smiling.
Dolly Parton | Robert Mora/Getty Images

Thoughts on ‘the progress the country music community has been making as a whole when it comes to embracing its gay listeners’

Parton’s interviewer, Chris Azzopardi of Pride Source, asked the “Jolene” singer her thoughts on “the progress the country music community has been making as a whole when it comes to embracing its gay listeners.”

“In defense of a lot of people, they didn’t have as true of an understanding as they do now,” she said. “Now people really see that this is real, these are real people with real feelings, that this is who they really are. I think a lot of people, anytime you talked about gay people, thought ‘perverse.’ Now, they’re being more educated that this is who people really are. There’s just been so much made of (gay rights) in the last two or three years and it’s been brought to the front so people can really see it and be like, ‘Yeah, I guess there are a lot more gay people than we ever knew! I have a better understanding of it now. I know that these people are for real.’ I think they’re getting that now.”

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Parton blames the community’s previous closed-mindedness on “a lack of knowledge.”

“When you’re with someone, of course you should have your rights,” she said. “You’re gonna be with who you’re gonna be with even if you starve to death and have no privileges and no rights. I think people understand that more now.”

This interview, of course, took place in 2014. The community has more knowledge today than ever before.

Dolly Parton was one of the first country artists to advocate for gay rights

Azzopardi went on to ask Parton why she first decided to advocate for her LGBTQ fans when it wasn’t a common thing to do for country artists.

“Why wouldn’t I stand up for everybody, for all people?” she asked. “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. Whether we do or not, that’s a different story. But that’s what we’re supposed to do.”

What the world would look like ‘free of judgment,’ according to Dolly Parton

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“It’d be a lot better, I can tell you that,” said Parton. “But people love to hate, and it’s just unfortunate but that’s the way it is. People like to judge, they like to condemn, they won’t accept anything they don’t understand – that’s just too bad.”

Even so, Parton isn’t giving up on people.

“We have to work at those things anyway, but most people are not willing to,” she said. “A lot of people are just blind and they’re not seeing through the spiritual eye, and we need to look that way and then we would be more forgiving, more loving and more accepting.”