Dolly Parton helped gay family members come out

If you need a family member to confide in, you could do a lot worse than Dolly Parton.

Parton discussed her connection to the LGBT community during an interview with PrideSource, revealing that she’s become the de facto family member gay and lesbian relatives reach out to when it’s time to come out. 

“I’ve had many people through the years who I have helped to feel good about themselves,” she said. “I say, ‘You need to let people know who you are and you need to come on out. You don’t need to live your life in darkness -- what’s the point in that? You’re never gonna be happy; you’re gonna be sick. You’re not gonna be healthy if you try to suppress your feelings and who you are.’” 

Parton admitted that not everyone in her rural family has been as open and accepting, but she’s been working for years to change that.

“Oh, there are some in the mountains who still don’t know quite what to make of it or how they should feel about it, but they’re ours and they’re who they are and we know they’re wonderful and they’re like us,” Parton said. “We love the fact that they are who they are and we nurture that. We don’t try to make them feel separate or different. We embrace it.”

The “Jolene” singer also discussed her sizable LGBT fan base and how important they’ve been to her success.

“I have a huge gay and lesbian following and I’m proud of ’em, I love ’em and I think everybody should be themselves and be allowed to be themselves whoever they are, whatever they are,” she said. 

“I certainly know that the gay people I know are the most sensitive and most caring of all. I think they go through so much that they have to live with their feelings on their sleeve,” she said. “They’ve had to go through so much that I think they’re very emotional and tenderhearted and more open to feelings, so I’ve just learned the same things I try to learn from everybody. I know they’re good people and I’ve tried to learn from that as well. Most of the gays I know just want to make the world a more beautiful place like I do.”