Dollywood has been getting a lot of press lately for asking one member of a lesbian couple to turn her t-shirt inside out. The woman was visiting the park with her partner and a friend’s child and was asked to turn her t-shirt, which said “Marriage is so Gay” inside out by a park security official. The lesbian couple, Olivier Odom and Jennifer Tipton, live in Knoxville, Tennessee--not far from the park, which is located in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.
The pair was most offended, they say, because of the security guard’s reason for asking Odom to turn her shirt inside out. He said that Dollywood was a family park, implying that children should not be forced to know about gay marriage.
Dollywood is a huge park, named after country celebrity Dolly Parton. It opened in 1986 and today more than 2.5 million people visit the park each year. The park combines traditional theme park attractions, like roller coasters and water rides, with a musical stage and a craft area. Parton herself and her family perform at the theme park often.
Odom and Tipton’s story has been making the rounds of the press. Yesterday, the hosts of The Talk discussed the story, with Sharon Osbourne, Leah Remini and Holly Robinson-Peete saying that the park was right in their refusal to let Odom enter until she changed her t-shirt. They said that parents shouldn’t have to explain gay marriage to their children at a place they went for fun. Openly-gay host Sarah Gilbert challenged their ideas, saying Odom’s t-shirt shouldn’t be seen as political.
Because of all the media attention, the park seems to be working the PR angle pretty hard. Dollywood’s spokesperson Pete Owens says that the park’s policy is to ask anyone with offensive t-shirts or tattoos to cover them up before they are admitted to the park. He says the couple’s complaint on July 9 has caused Dollywood officials to re-examine its dress code and possibly change it to be more inclusive.