Dolly Parton: A Uniter On All Fronts

RCA Records

On January 19, 1946, one of America’s most iconic female singers, songwriters, and producers was born: Dolly Parton. From her voluptuous blonde hair to universally known hit songs, Parton has taken the world by storm since her 1967 album Hello, I’m Dolly. 

While Parton is best known for her presence in country music, she is much more than her southern hymns. As early as the 70s, Dolly Parton devoted her time and energy to various causes, many of which are very controversial in the world of country music. Her most disputed act is voicing her opinions on LGBTQ+ rights and equality for all. 

Dolly Parton, born and raised a southern Christian, was brought up in a world where it was not okay or even talked about to be out of the closet. Still, this has not stopped Parton from using her platform to speak up on behalf of the LGBTQ+ community. In fact, in a 2009 interview, host Joy Behar even asks Parton how she could be supportive of marriage equality with the background she has. Parton replied comedically saying “why can’t they [gay couples] get married? They should suffer like the rest of us do”.

While Parton has been always supportive of the LGBTQ+ community, her activism has blossomed since that interview. Her 2019 mini-Netflix series, Heartstrings, featured a new story every episode; each storyline was based on one of her songs. In the second episode of the series, titled “Two Doors Down,” Parton wrote and produced a story following a closeted gay couple who feels their relationship needs to stay a secret due to their southern Christian roots. Unfortunately, the couple, Tyler and Cole, end up being outed at a family event. While many did support the pair, Tyler’s mother has a rough time accepting her son’s love life. Much to Tyler and Cole’s fear, she blamed it on her roots. By the end of the episode, Tyler’s mother realizes that her son is going to love who he loves and there is nothing wrong with that. 

The purpose of “Two Doors Down” delved deeper than just a mother coming around to accept her child. While this message is important, Dolly Parton’s main goal in this episode was to show people that their backgrounds should not determine whether or not they treat others with respect. Even if a person does come from a more conservative household, it does not give them an excuse to shun others who they disagree with. After its airing, “Two Doors Down” became an instant sensation. It was nominated for an array of awards, but most notably it received the 2019 GLAAD LGBTQ+ advocacy award. 

While Dolly Parton is often categorized as a “bimbo,” this iconic diva has proven herself as a respectable, smart, and loving woman. The message Parton has stood by since rising to fame – love and acceptance – applies to every aspect of one’s life. Though she might have grown up around more conservative views, Parton has come to believe every person is perfect as their truest selves. With her voice, which has touched a wide range of people, Dolly Parton urges others to embrace one another with the warmest welcome as kindest conquers all. 

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