Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Dollywood's Dress Code

Dolly Parton might be in favor of gay marriage, but her theme park isn't.

On July 9, Olivier Odom wore a T-shirt reading "marriage is so gay" on a visit to Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tenn.  An employee asked Odom to turn the shirt inside out so others wouldn't be offended.

An employee that eagle-eyed should be watching for pickpockets instead.

A Dollywood spokesman said this week that the establishment's dress code policy is to ask visitors with potentially offensive clothing or tattoos to change or cover up.

The problem with that, of course, is that offensive is in the eye of the beholder.  An atheist could be irked by a tattoo of a cross.  A Vanderbilt graduate might find a University of Tennessee shirt offensive.  Anybody on the planet could be put off by an "I heart Barry Manilow" shirt.

Only the Dollywood employees know how evenly they enforce the dress code.  But I'd like to know if they ever point to a guy wearing a "Be happy, not gay" shirt and say, "You there!  I'll hold your cotton candy while you turn that potentially offensive shirt inside out."

Back to Olivier Odom—remember her?  She said when she and her partner Jennifer Tipton visited Dollywood Splash Country with friends and their friends' children, it was a person in the ticket booth who asked her to turn her shirt inside out, citing the fact that this was a family park.

Odom obliged, not wanting to make a fuss in front of the kids, but she was about as happy as an acrophobic on a Ferris wheel.

She and Tipton have sent an email to Dollywood asking the park "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."

When it's inclusive of all families, then it really will be a family park.