A woman says she was was asked to turn her T-shirt inside-out at a Tennessee theme park because its text, “Marriage Is So Gay,” was considered potentially offensive to other patrons.
Olivier Odom, who visited the water park complex on July 9 with friends and their children, said she was denied entry by a front gate staffer, who said the message had to be obscured or covered because Dollywood was “a family park.”
“That’s what we found so offensive — that he said it was a family park,” Jennifer Tipton, Odom’s girlfriend, told the Associated Press. “Families come in a wide range of definitions these days and we were with our family.”
Odom complied and reversed her T-shirt because she didn’t want to make a scene in front of the children, but she has since filed a formal complaint to Dollywood Splash Country, asking for policy changes “that are inclusive of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.”
Dollywood spokesman Pete Owens told the AP that the park is open to all families, but a dress code policy requires that clothing or tattoos that could offend others must be covered. He says he will speak directly to the couple and address the issues that they’ve raised.
Odom, who lives with Tipton in Knoxville, is not campaigning for an end to dress codes, but believes the Dollywood policy is flawed. “Our whole deal is about marriage equality and being treated equally,” she told the New York Daily News. “It’s not that we’re trying to cause a big stir.”
Dollywood, a theme park owned by Dolly Parton, is located in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., about 30 miles south of Knoxville. The country singer is pro-gay marriage and has reportedly said, “Sure, why can’t (gay people) get married? They should suffer like the rest of us do.”
(VIDEO: Gay Marriage in the Heartland)