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'Gay Day' at Dollywood in June

Here I am in the South and I didn’t know about this gay day celebration at Dollywood (June 16-17); it is now called “Out at the Park.”

Like the June Disney event, this isn’t officially sanctioned by Dollywood, which is in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.

Out at the Park events are all open to the public. “Out at the Park is not like most other gay ‘party’ events, like various Circuit or dance parties, and other women or men-centric festivals and events, nor is it a politically-oriented event like most gay pride celebrations,” organizers say. “Out at the Park is simply a fun, all-ages social event for all members of the GLBTQ community, along with all of its friends, families and supporters.”

This year’s color is again red. Organizers are asking everyone to wear the brightest red shirts that they have, with hopes to flood the park with a sea of red shirts.

“Dolly Parton is a gay icon and has received accolades from gay groups,” organizers commented. “She once told an interviewer that if she had been born a man, she would have had to have been a drag queen.”

In 2004, some members of the KKK protested near the entrance of the park, carrying signs with various Biblical verses and took a page from Westboro Baptist with a sign saying “God Hates Fags.” Ryan Salyer of Out in the Park said at the time they received emails from churches protesting openly gay and lesbian patrons at the country star’s theme park.

“They were telling us that this is a family park and that we were shoving our lifestyle down people’s throats,” said Salyer. “We are not asking for special treatment. We are asking for equal rights.”

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding