Dolly Parton has denied rumors that have plagued her for years alleging that she is gay and in a secret lesbian relationship with her best friend.
Speaking with British tabloid The Sun, the 73-year-old country music singer and actress, who has been married to Carl Thomas Dean since 1966, put to rest rumors that she’s been involved in a decades-long relationship with her best friend Judy Ogle.
“People love to talk, people love to gossip,” Parton told The Sun‘s Dan Wootton. “So many people that, because you can’t really have a great relationship with a woman,” she said. “I’m not gay, but I have so many gay friends and I accept everybody for who they are.”
She compared the rumors about her alleged relationship with Ogle to similar rumors that have swirled around the relationship between Oprah Winfrey and her best friend Gayle King.
“People love to talk, but sometimes that’s your best publicity,” she said. “I don’t care what they say as long as they don’t hurt other people I love.”
Parton said she has known Ogle since childhood, and compared their relationship to one between sisters.
“Judy and I have been best friends for 64 years, since we were little kids. Our parents knew each other, we grew up together, we were like sisters, became best friends,” Parton recalls. “She was very quiet, I was very outgoing. So we made perfect friends. We went all through school together.
“She went to the army when we graduated because she needed the insurance and she needed to help her family, and I was trying to make it. As soon as she got out, she came to Nashville, and we’ve been together ever since.”
Parton, who has long been an ally to the gay community, says she loves being known as a gay icon, adding that, if she had been born a boy, she would have “been a drag queen because I love all the flamboyant stuff.”
But Parton also questioned the recent trend of pop stars — including her own goddaughter Miley Cyrus — defining themselves as gender-fluid, pansexual, or bisexual in the latest episode of The Dan Wootton Interview podcast.
“For me, I’m still an old timer. Sometimes I think it’s just become kind of fashionable to speak out like that. I think some of them even say more than who they really are,” Parton said. “I think they just want to be part of that whole movement to make people think that they’re so free and all that. But I don’t really know how they feel inside. I know how I feel inside.”
She added: “Miley, she does a lot of stuff for effect, and I think a lot of them do.”