Dolly Parton, the country star and gay icon who helped fund Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine, has proclaimed herself a fan of Lil Nas X after he covered her 1974 hit “Jolene.”
Lil Nas X, who recently released his debut studio album Montero, returned to his country roots to perform the cover for BBC Radio 1’s Live Lounge on Sept. 21.
The performance has been watched more than 2.5 million times on YouTube:
In a tweet Wednesday, Parton thanked the rapper for covering her song. Parton also shared the statement on Facebook and Instagram, where she posted a photo of her and Lil Nas X both wearing fringed outfits.
“I was so excited when someone told me that Lil Nas X had done my song #Jolene. I had to find it and listen to it immediately…and it’s really good,” she tweeted.
“Of course, I love him anyway. I was surprised and I’m honored and flattered. I hope he does good for both of us.”
The “Industry Baby” singer responded “HOLY SHIT” in a tweet later that evening, to the delight of many LGBTQ fans.
Something of an anomaly in country music, Parton has long championed gay rights, making statements in support of same-sex marriage as early as 2009.
“I don’t even think about whether you’re straight or gay, I just love you because I love you,” she told Metro Weekly in 2016. “I think everybody should be allowed to be exactly who they are, and be allowed to love exactly who they love… We’re all God’s children. And we all have a right to our own happiness.”
In 2019, country star Billy Ray Cyrus defended Lil Nas X’s song “Old Town Road” after Billboard removed it from its Hot Country Songs chart, saying it did not “embrace enough elements of today’s country music to chart in its current version.”
Shortly after, Cyrus and Lil Nas X’s remix of the song became the longest-leading No. 1 single in Hot 100 history.
“Lil Nas X and his work are both unapologetically Black and unapologetically queer, and to see him get this level of mainstream success and appreciation is incredible. [Montero] is both visually and lyrically, as queer as it is Black, and it is outstanding,” said David Johns, executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition, in a press release on Thursday.
“He is an inspiration,” Johns added, “as we see him constantly fight back against people upset and angry by him living his truth and not their expectations of who he should be.”
Fellow rapper Kid Cudi similarly praised Lil Nas X for being a “true rock star” in a piece last month for TIME Magazine’s 100 most influential people of 2021.
“What he’s doing is what we need right now. To have a gay man in hip-hop doing his thing, crushing records—that is huge for us and for Black excellence,” he wrote. “There’s a homophobic cloud over hip-hop, and he’s going to break that sh-t down. We have to stand with him.”
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