Dolly Parton Denies Gay Rumors, Smacks Down 'Gossips'

Dolly Parton told an interviewer with the Sun that she categorically denies the long-standing rumors that she is secretly in a gay relationship with a close friend. Despite having been married for 53 years, the country icon has nevertheless been followed by rumors that she is a closeted lesbian and actually in a relationship with her life-long best friend, Judy Ogle.

Her husband, Carl Dean, tends to avoid the spotlight, helping to feed the fires of rumor-mongers, despite the couple renewing their vows on the 50th anniversary of their wedding. But the star of the classic 1980 film 9 to 5 expressed some frustration with the fact that the rumors simply will not die. At the same time, she was quick to make it clear that she has nothing against gay people and indeed is known as a strong ally among the LGBTQ community. She went so far to as to say that if she had been born male, she would have "been a drag queen because I love all the flamboyant stuff."

"So people say that, because you can't really have a great relationship with a woman," Parton said. "I'm not gay, but I have so many gay friends and I accept everybody for who they are."

The 73-year-old singer is clearly very close with Ogle – the two have been friends since childhood, and Parton refers to Ogle as her "girlfriend," a common expression among straight Southern women. But Parton notes that she's not the only woman in the spotlight about whom rumors swirl regarding friendships with other women.

"Well, people love to talk, people love to gossip. They've said that about Oprah but it's not true," she said.

Parton, with her decades-spanning career and a public image as a sassy, sexual woman, yet one who pushes the boundaries of feminine empowerment, is certainly no stranger to having people talk about her. She has suffered the slings and arrows of fame for so long that she appears to more or less cheerfully accept whatever is said about her personally. But she bristles a bit when gossip-mongers start poking at her friends and family.

Dolly Parton and Miley Cyrus performing at the 2019 Grammy Awards
Getty Images | Emma McIntyre
Dolly Parton performs with her goddaughter Miley Cyrus at the 61st annual Grammy Awards in February 2019.

"People love to talk — 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."

At any rate, according to Parton, rumors may come and go, but her friendship with Ogle is rock-solid, no matter what.

"Judy and I have been best friends for 64 years, since we were little kids," she added.