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Why is Dolly Parton the Queen of Country and a Gay Icon

Why is Dolly Parton the Queen of Country and Gay Icon | Prowler

Icon of the Issue: Dolly Parton

The queen of country is forever embedded in the hearts of us all as a true LGBTQ+ ally!


An Unforgettable Image

Dolly Parton's iconic image is often the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of the Southern singer, songwriter, and businesswoman. Dolly's buxom and borderline caricature look helped solidify her sex symbol status, yet it has remained a constant source of scrutiny in both her public and private life.


From New York to Standing Her Ground

At the age of 21, Dolly was mistaken for a sex worker in New York on her very first visit to the city with a friend from Tennessee. The pair decided to sneak into a pornographic theatre; “We thought it would be somethin' dirty enough to enjoy,” she recalled. “We dared each other to do it, so we went.” After leaving the venue, the pair were accosted by a stranger who began to manhandle Dolly. “I think we were on 52nd Street and, because I looked like a tramp – a country girl, all overdone and tacky – this man thought I was a prostitute.” The man soon backed off, however, after Dolly pulled her pistol on him, stating; “If you put your hands on me one more time, I swear to God that I will shoot you.”


Owning Her Image

Despite constant criticism, Dolly has always proudly owned her image and remained undeterred by people’s negativity or judgement. She has become well known for making herself the butt of the joke before people even get the chance. Dolly famously quipped, “It costs a lot of money to look this cheap!” This very sense of humour is one of the things Dolly credits for sustaining her 56-year-long marriage to Carl Dean. “We are good people. We are fun people. We both have a great sense of humour, and we like and respect each other. And we just have fun,” Dolly said, adding with a giggle: “And I stay gone enough to keep it new.”


Keeping the Spark Alive

How does Dolly keep her marriage alive after so many years together? It’s not just looking good on stage or screen that matters to Dolly; she tries to keep the embers of desire alive by making an effort for her spouse too. “It is important to me that I look as good as I can. I think it kind of helps keep things spicy.” In an interview, Dolly said, “I like to dress up for Carl. Every day, I put on some makeup and fix my hair because I think, ‘Well, the whole world, I’m out here and everybody else sees me all dressed up, and I’m not going to just kind of go home and just flop on him.’”


An Open Relationship

Dolly's marriage to Carl has stood the test of time, despite being frank about her appreciation for other men. The couple has an open relationship (emotionally but not sexually), and when asked about her wandering eye, Dolly exclaimed; “I'm married, not dead!” Dolly has always maintained, however, that neither partner feels insecure about their marriage. “He's not jealous and I am not jealous of him. He knows I flirt. He flirts too.” In her book 'Dolly on Dolly, Interviews and Encounters with Dolly Parton,' she wrote: “Men are my weakness.” She explains, “Short, fat, bald or skinny—I've had crushes on some very unusual men, but Carl knows I'll always come home and I'm not having sex with these people—I'm just flirting and having fun.”


A True Love Story

Despite temptation, Dolly says that Carl is her one true love. It is Dolly's love for her work and husband that have ensured the icon's career and marriage have both spanned over five decades. She insists, “There's no way Carl and I are ever going to break up. We have a happy marriage, a great marriage.” Even at 76 years young, Dolly loves to organise sexy surprises for her husband. For Carl's birthdays, she recreated her legendary 1978 Playboy cover for the occasion. Dolly donned a tight black bustier and iconic bunny ears while presenting the birthday boy with a framed copy of the original magazine, alongside a more up-to-date snap of herself. She also threw on a sparkly pink bow tie with matching cuffs, mirroring her exact look from the famous shoot. Luckily for Dolly fans, the whole thing was documented on Instagram. In the video, she trills, “I was trying to think of something to do to make him happy. He still thinks I am a hot chick after 57 years, and I am not going to try and talk him out of that.”


LGBTQ+ Support and Contributions

Dolly Parton has always been a staunch supporter of LGBTQ+ rights. She has spoken out against discrimination and advocated for equality. She has also been involved in various LGBTQ+ charities and events, further cementing her status as an ally. Her inclusive approach at Dollywood, her theme park, also reflects her commitment to creating a welcoming environment for everyone.


Cultural Impact

Dolly Parton's influence extends beyond her music and public persona. She has had a significant impact on popular culture, particularly within the LGBTQ+ community. Her songs often touch on themes of love, acceptance, and overcoming adversity, resonating deeply with many. Songs like "I Will Always Love You" and "Jolene" have become anthems, offering comfort and inspiration to many in the LGBTQ+ community.


Quotes from Fans

Many fans within the LGBTQ+ community have shared how much Dolly Parton means to them. Here are a few quotes from fans:

"Dolly's music and her unapologetic self-expression have always inspired me. She reminds me to be true to myself, no matter what others think." - Jamie, 32

"Her support for our community is unwavering. It's rare to see someone so famous and influential use their platform to advocate for equality. Dolly is a true ally." - Chris, 28


Our thoughts

At Prowler, we celebrate icons who embody the values of authenticity, inclusivity, and resilience. Dolly Parton is a shining example of these qualities. Her unwavering support for the LGBTQ+ community, combined with her larger-than-life persona and heartfelt music, make her a true gay icon. Dolly reminds us all to be true to ourselves, embrace our uniqueness, and stand up for equality. Here’s