Country singer Dolly Parton — one of music’s biggest gay icons, impersonated by drag queens far and wide — expressed her outrage over the Orlando massacre at Pulse Nightclub over the weekend, calling the murder of 49 people and wounding of 53 a hate crime and calling on the world “to love one another a little more.”
“First of all, I do have a big gay following,” Parton told reporters at a press conference in Toronto. “I’m a patron saint for a lot of them guys, and it makes me feel good. All those drag queens, sometimes I see some of them look more like me than I do…As far as what happened in Orlando, that’s horrible. It wouldn’t matter what kind of club it was. It happened to be a gay, lesbian club. … And it’s a hate crime, it looks to me, is what they said.
“I am not God. I am no judge. I just know that God loves us all,” she added. “I work with so many and hire so many people. I have thousands of people that I employ through all of my various businesses, whether it’s Dollywood or Dixie Stampede, the Lumberjack [Adventure], we hire everybody. I just think it’s terrible that people kill anybody for any reason. But the fact that you just kill somebody for being something you don’t agree with or don’t understand or accept, that’s terrible. It’s just terrible period. We should just love one another a little more, don’t you think?”
Parton — who was in Toronto to promote her 60-city Pure & Simple tour and album of the same name, due Aug. 19 — was also asked about her recent support of the transgender community’s right to use the bathroom of the sex with which they identify.
“First of all, we all have to live in this world. We are all kinds of people, and I think that everybody should be protected. Everybody should be safe, everybody should be comfortable in their world, however they do, so I really think that it’s important that we as a nation and we as a people try to love each other a little better, try to look after each other a little more.
“I know for us — it’s nothing to be flippant about it in any way — we had the first transgender bathroom when we had an outdoor toilet back home. [Laughs] And also I always joke about our waterpark at Dollywood: Everybody’s free to pee in that. [Laughs] But the point is, I really do think we’ve got to make some better rules. We’ve got to take care of each other a little better.”
The 70-year-old songwriting legend also brought up the death of 22-year-old Christina Grimmie, who was killed while signing autographs after her Friday show in Orlando. Parton, whose North American tour is her most extensive in 25 years, says she always worries about security and prays to God to keep everybody safe on tour.
“It’s really scary to me what’s going on in this world as a rule and, of course, when they get into the entrainment, that makes you concerned. … I guess it’s always been crazy; it just seems to be getting so much worse now. But of course, we hate it and, hopefully, we’ll be safe.
“My security director, Bryan Seaver, takes care of all of our security,” she added. “He makes sure that, in advance, we get all the people locally, but also he deals with that for weeks and months before we go into a town. And you can only be as safe as you can be. You just try to do your homework, do everything you can and pray for the best and hope for the best.”
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