Larry King Now

Dolly Parton has shut down rumours that she’s secretly a lesbian.

The iconic country singer has been married to fame-shy husband Carl Dean for 53 years, but has faced speculation about her sexuality throughout her career.

Speaking to The Sun, she dismissed the rumours that she’s in a secret relationship with lifelong best friend Judy Ogle, but stressed that she “doesn’t care” what people say about her because she’s happy with who she is.

“So ­people say that – because you can’t really have a great relationship with a woman. I’m not gay but I have so many gay friends and I accept everybody for who they are,” she said.

Addressing the fact that similar rumours have been shared about talk show legend Oprah Winfrey, Dolly continued: “Well, people love to talk, people love to gossip. They’ve said that about Oprah but it’s not true.

“Judy and I have been best friends for 64 years, since we were little kids. Our ­parents knew each other, we grew up together, we were like ­sisters, [we] became best friends.

“She was very quiet, I was very outgoing. So we made perfect friends. We went all through school together.

“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.

“People love to talk — but sometimes that’s your best publicity. I don’t care what they say as long as they don’t hurt other people I love.”

Dolly has been an LGBTQ icon and outspoken ally throughout her career, and once famously said that if she’d been born a boy, she’d have become a drag queen.

Speaking around the release of Jennifer Aniston-starring Netflix film Dumplin’, for which she provided the soundtrack, Dolly detailed her love for gay fans and drag queens, saying: “I have a huge gay following.

“The drag queens have always loved me because they’re flamboyant and so am I, and it kind of gives them a little freedom, and they’ve always loved to dress like me because they can kind of over-exaggerate it, so I’m pleased and touched by that.

“I think it’s a form of flattery, and I’m excited about it.”