Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Dollywood is Very Very Gay!

When my friend Aaron (who is a theme park expert) heard that Jeff and I were going to Dollywood, he called me up to tell me two things. One, he wished he could join us. And two, there used to be a Gay Day at Dollywood, but now there isn't one. He later forwarded me on an article from OutTraveler.com, which revealed that the event organizer/promoter decided to stop Gay Day at Dollywood after five years for numerous reasons. There were also threats from the KKK, run-ins with the police, and if you showed up wearing a gay-themed T-shirt to the park...the Dollywood employees make you turn it inside out. Apparently, the lawyers that represent Dollywood also didn't like the idea of having a gay day in their amusement park in part because their mission statement is to operate in "a manner consistent with Christian values and ethics."

(For those not in the know, Gay Days happen at theme parks all over the country, including Disneyland, Disney World, and Magic Mountain. They are a day when gays all plan to attend on a specific day and all wear red T-shirts so that they can easily identify each other. Sometimes after the park shuts down for the day, there are private all-gay parties held within certain, more cooperative parks.)

Hearing about this controversy with the gays at Dollywood didn't really surprise me. Right before Jeff and I left our Days Inn in Pigeon Forge to go to Dollywood, I saw a guy that was staying in the room next to us, polishing his boots; they were leather cowboy boots that prominently featured the "Stars and Bars" (a.k.a.: the Dixie Flag) on either side of each boot. Prejudice seems to be simmering just below the surface here. All it needs are a couple thousand gays in gay themed t-shirts to make it boil over.

Although disheartening, the news of the gay day organizer's troubles with Dollywood didn't stop Jeff and I from going on our adventure yesterday. And I have to say that I'm quite happy we went, because here's the thing...

Dollywood is the gayest place on earth.

As we were welcomed into Dollywood, it became almost immediately apparent that Rainbows would be a running theme throughout the park.

Now I'm not one to claim that all rainbows are code for "gay," but when you see this book...

...on sale at "Dolly's Closet,"

You have to wonder what it all means.

Particularly when the suspiciously monikered store is located across the street from the Dolly Parton museum. A museum they call "Chasing Rainbows."

(Please note Jeff's positioning here. He is attempting to "chase the rainbow.")

As soon as you walk into "Chasing Rainbows," the first photo you see is...

...which featured Dolly and three other famous ladies that are also gay icons.

On the opposite wall, Jeff found Dolly with...

...the verygay Siegfried & Roy (the giant feline pictured is NOT the one that took a bite out of Roy).

Next to that photo is one of Dolly with my favorite musical theater star, Carol Channing:

The rest of the Dolly museum was filled to the brim with photos of Dolly with Cher, Dolly with Jonathan Taylor Thomas, Dolly with George Michael, and many many others.

(Unfortunately, we really weren't supposed to take photos within the museum, so I only have the ones you see above. I snuck those in before the Dollywood security team caught on.)

As we walked out of "Chasing Rainbows," Jeff and I ran into "The Gem Tones," a group of five friends that "bring their own brand of musical fun" to the streets and sidewalks of "Jukebox Junction."

They were truly outrageous.

For the most part, Dollywood is a pretty traditional theme park but with a down home country/folksy name for everything. It turns out that "folksy" and "gay" are surprisingly interchangeable.

For example, the best ride in the park is the "Mystery Mine" ride. Jeff saw that it went upside down, almost crapped his pants, and refused to ride on it...so I was forced to ride into the "mine shaft" on my own.

The ride was fast, thrilling, and I couldn't stop smiling. That said, it is a ride that takes you down a "mystery mine shaft" where they shoot flames at you. Seriously.

The only ride that was more suggestive was this cleverly titled one hiding near the back of the park...

Actually, on second though, I think the suspicious looking "The Timber Tower" may be gayer...

I did manage to convince Jeff to join me on a couple of rides, including a very tame indoor roller coaster called "Blazing Fury."

Near the entrance of the ride, I was immediately drawn to the poster of "Bill Bison" and his master hose handling skills...

...because who doesn't love a man that knows how to "shoot"?

Towards the end of the day, I guess Jeff's defenses were down, because he let me convince him to go on a wooden roller coaster that was one of the fastest and shakiest wooden roller coasters ever. And, of course, it wouldn't Dollywood unless it was named...

"Thunderhead" really put the WOOD in Dollywood, especially after it cautioned riders to:


There were plenty of other signs dispersed throughout the park that made me realize why every day at Dollywood is "Gay Day."

Despite all these suggestive signs lurking around, Jeff and I really only saw and identified two other actual real live gays during our entire four hour visit to Dollywood.

I also spotted this gentleman...

I am 99.9 percent positive that the implications of this t-shirt weren't intended for a gay audience, which really made me want to make a scene and demand that the Dollywood staff force this man to turn his shirt inside out. Instead, I took a picture of his "I Got My Cock Cleaned at Phesant Express" T-shirt for this blog...and isn't that punishment enough?

Overall, Jeff and I had fantastic time at Dollywood.

We felt very welcome and were very sad that the park closed at 6pm.

At least we'll always know one thing...

...that Dolly will always love all of the colors of the Rainbow.

Including our own.


  1. I'm afraid I was almost crying with laughter at the "successively gayer" things you encountered. I think it looks like you had a LOT of fun
    Hose Handler LOL.
    Thing is though sometimes these things are not intended to be read semiotically (eg if my mother said them) but are genuinely down home naive innocence.. and thats when things get even more hilarious and from there, potentially dodgy. Nowadays we mostly assume a joke is intended and we laugh, but what if it wasn't intended?...Be careful out there you city-folks!

  2. 1. Why isn't Jeff wearing a red shirt?

    2. If you haven't seen, "For the Love of Dolly," you must.

    3. I miss you.

  3. I hope I'm adding that Rainbow books to Charlotte's collection. (hint hint)

  4. Dolly Parton's business partner and long time manager in the late 70's and 80's was totally out and gay. Her dress designer, her Bob Mackie, if you will was totally gay & died of AIDS in the early 90's. On top of all that, the guy who made 9 to 5 and Best Little Whorehouse was gay and helped create Dolly's film image.