Dollywood Patron Asked to Reverse Gay Marriage T-Shirt
There's a bit of contentious controversy brewing over gay rights and the dress code policy at Dollywood, the Tennessee amusement park co-owned by country queen Dolly Parton.
What do the two have to do with one another? Well, on July 9, professional welder Olivier Odom visited the Dollywood Splash Country, the waterpark connected to the main amusement park, with her wife and friends. Odom wore a t-shirt emblazoned with the phrase 'Marriage Is So Gay' on it. Ultimately, Odom was asked by employees to reverse her shirt because it violated the park's dress code policy, which prohibits attire that is deemed offensive, and requests patrons to either cover or reverse the offending article of clothing.
Dollywood PR Manager Pete Owens told gay publication the Advocate that asking Odom, who was confused about what was offensive about her attire, to reverse her shirt had nothing to do with her beliefs or the park's position on gay rights. "It doesn't have anything to do with who the people are or what their belief system is or with anything other than the fact that we try to prevent as best as we can upon entry of the park one of our guests being offended by something someone else is wearing," Owens said.
Odom responded with a a letter to Dollywood, which read, "I do not feel that your company has the right to restrict the freedom of speech of its patrons. My shirt was a political statement of equality." She also said she saw patrons of the park wearing confederate flag t-shirts, which might be deemed offensive to some.
The PR magager, Owens, also recently spoke to the Atlantic Wire, affirming the fact that the park has no affiliations or prejudices. "Our park is open everyday to everybody," he said. "It's open to every and all kinds of families enjoying their day." He also plans to meet with Odom regarding the matter.
While Parton is not directly involved with this issue, the singer told the Toronto Sun in a recent interview that she supports marriage equality. This particular situation sounds like the park is trying to keep all of its guests happy -- which given our melting pot culture of different beliefs, opinions and lifestyles, can be an incredibly difficult task.
It also sounds like Odom views the request to reverse her shirt as a violation of free speech. These are all issues that are argued about daily in American life, regardless of a person's stance or standing. We hope the matter gets resolved to everyone's satisfaction in a quick fashion.
Watch the Dolly Parton 'Together You and I Video'