In a recent 11-minute interview with Pride Source, the angelic Dolly Parton was asked about everything from her personal life to her relationship with "the gays." We've compiled a list of the five things we learned from the country music star below.
On her introduction to the gay community:
As I started to be a teenager there were a couple of guys downtown that everybody was sayin' were queer, ya know? I know they often said that about anybody who was odd or different--"they're just queer, just strange and odd"--but the way they would talk about these two guys they would say, "Well, they're sissies, they're girls." I was a teenager then. But 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 'cause I was different too, and I embraced and accepted them and I knew them.
On her gay circle:
You know what, I have so many [gay] people in my companies. 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.
On making LGBTQ people feel safe:
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."
I have a couple of transgender people in my company who are on salary with me, so I am totally open for that. And a lot of people feel like they can come to me... and they do!
On what she's learned from the gays in her life:
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. They've had to go through so much that I think they're very emotional and tender hearted 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.
On her sense of humor and wit:
Oh, that comes from both sides of my family. My mama's people were hysterical; my daddy's people were hysterical. They just had a different sense of humor, and that's how we got through everything, with our sense of humor. And as a writer I just think funny. I try to find things to laugh about and so anyway, I just say whatever I say.
Parton is currently promoting her most recent album Pure & Simple, which just landed her the number one spot on Billboard's top country album charts. Read the full interview here.