Dolly Parton has spoken out to deny rumours about her sexuality.
The “9 to 5” singer, who has been married to husband Carl Dean since 1966, spoke to The Sun‘s Dan Wootton about long-standing rumours she is living a “secret gay life”
Responding to the claims she is in a relationship with best friend Judy Ogle, the country singer said: “People love to talk, people love to gossip.”
Dolly Parton speaks about “best friend” Judy Ogle
Of her close bond with Ogle, Parton said: “My best friend Judy and I have been best friends for 64 years, since we were little kids.
“We knew each other, our parents knew each other, we grew up together, we were like sisters, became best friends.”
She added: “[Judy] was very quiet, I was very outgoing. So we made perfect friends. We went all through school together, all through high school.
“She went to the army when we graduated because she needed the insurance and she needed to help her family and I was trying to make it.
“As soon as she got out, she came to Nashville and we’ve been together ever since.”
Dolly Parton: “I don’t care what people say”
Parton continued: “People say that, because you can’t really have a great relationship with a woman.”
The singer is not the only one celebrity to face rumours about her sexuality due to a close friendship with another woman. Oprah Winfrey faced years of tabloid speculation about her friendship with Gayle King.
Parton added: “You’re right, they’ve said that about Oprah but it’s not true. I’m not gay but I have so many gay friends and I accept everybody for who they are.”
“People love to talk. Sometimes that’s your best publicity. I don’t care what they say as long as they don’t hurt other people I love.”
The singer’s shy husband Carl Dean rarely appears in public, and never accompanies his wife to awards shows or showbiz events.
She added: “I’ve been married for 53 years, come this May, to the same man. We first met when I moved to Nashville, we married two years later and we’re still at it.”
It’s not the first time Parton has publicly addressed the claims.
Speaking to the New York Daily News in 2012, she said: “I’m not gay. If I was gay, I would have come out of the closet just a-flying.
“But if there’s gossip going on, they’re going to bring me into it. I’ve been married 46 years. I think people think that in itself is not normal.”