August 3rd, 2011
04:00 PM ET
After a woman was asked to turn a T-shirt reading "Marriage is so gay" inside out while attempting to visit Dollywood's Splash Country in early July, Dolly Parton has issued a personal apology for the incident.
The woman, who according to the Atlantic was attending the park along with her wife and the children of a friend, was asked by the host at Dollywood's Splash Country to turn her shirt inside out at the park's entrance.
According to Dollywood's Splash Country press rep Pete Owens, the park has "a pretty strict dress code," and the host of the park is charged with deciding whether or not a guest's clothing is appropriate. In this case, the request to turn the "Marriage is so gay" T-shirt inside out was made "in the spirit of the dress code," Owens said.
The woman complied with the request, and no one was barred entry. However, Owens told CNN that the park was contacted by the customer on July 19 via email, which said that the couple didn't believe having to turn the t-shirt inside out was right.
Owens said an offer was made to arrange a meeting to discuss what happened, but that fell through. By August 1, Owens offered to refund the couple's admission to the park. That gesture was followed up by a personal apology from Parton herself.
"I am truly sorry for any hurt or embarrassment regarding the gay and lesbian T-shirt incident at Dollywood's Splash Country recently," she says in the statement. "Everyone knows of my personal support of the gay and lesbian community. Dollywood is a family park and all families are welcome. We do have a policy about profanity or controversial messages on clothing or signs. It is to protect the individual wearing or carrying them, as well as to keep down fights or problems by those opposed to it at the park. We even offer free shirts in exchange to those who want to remain on the park."
She continues, "I am and was on tour when this was brought to my attention and I am looking further into the incident and hope and believe it was more policy than insensitivity. I am very sorry it happened at all."
Press officer Owens said he gave Parton's statement to the couple involved and apologized if they were hurt, or uneasy, or embarrassed in any way.
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