Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Dollywood hates the gays?

Well, okay, at least in my mind it's difficult to imagine anyone in the South explicitly hating anything because they're all so darn polite, but academics and thinkers and basically anyone with a brain knows that there are still a significant amount of prejudices rampant in the South (and across America and the world).  Apparently, however, according to Yahoo! news, a "lesbian" couple visiting Dollywood in Pigeon Ford, TN was essentially asked to hide their gay pride. (I put "lesbian" in quotes because this is how Yahoo! refereed to the couple, even though one partner identifies as a man, which technically makes them an "non-traditional" straight couple.)

Semantics aside, Jennifer Tipton and Olivier Odom, some friends, and two of their friends' children visited Dollywood July 9, 2011.  Odom wore a shirt reading, "Marriage is so gay." When they tried to enter the water park, the guard asked Odom to turn her shirt inside out because Dollywood is "a family park."  Not wanting to make a scene in front of the children, Odom complied, but is clearly and understandably upset by the notion that, because she supports a "non-traditional" lifestyle, she is automatically potentially offensive to others.

Despite the fact that neither TN nor the couple's home state of North Carolina acknowledges gay marriage, Odom and Tipton filed a complaint with the park because, as Odom said, "If marriage equality is going to happen, it's not going to happen if people sit at home quietly," or silently accept imposed lifestyle ideologies.  The couple issued a complaint to Pete Owens, Dollywood spokesmen, asking ""to implement policies that are inclusive of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people; conduct staff sensitivity training; and issue a public statement indicating that the park is inclusive of all families." 

"The park is open every day to everybody," Owens said. "We try to provide an environment for families of all shapes and sizes to enjoy themselves."  (A savvy observer will note that Owens did not explicitly state that the park tries to provide and environment for families that differ from the nuclear one.)  Owens also states that the couples' complaint sparked a conversation amongst park employees about the ever-contentious dress code, which is obviously not the point Tiptom and Odom were trying to make.

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