Dollywood officials are condemning the words of Sevier County, Tennessee, Commissioner Warren Hurst, who used a gay slur to describe Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg during a Sevier County Commission meeting on Monday, the 21st of October.
The Sevier County Commission’s Insulting Words
Hurst, who has held his seat for 33 years, delivered his inflammatory comments with a toothpick in his mouth shortly before the commission voted unanimously to approve a symbolic resolution declaring the county’s support of gun ownership and opposition to red flag laws.
He decried the danger posed by Democrats and liberals and said better presidential candidates could be found in the local jail.
“We got a queer running for president, if that ain’t about as ugly as you can get. Look what we got running for president in the Democratic party. We can go over here [to the Sevier County jail] and get better people out of there than those running for democratic, to be President of the United States.”
As his words made circulation and news headlines began to spread, some have called for a boycott of the tourist attractions in the area, including Dollywood. However, a number of organizations in the county, including Parton’s iconic theme park have issued a statement against Hurst’s words.
“We read the comments made in Monday night’s County Commission meeting, and they do not reflect the Dollywood experience in any way. Dollywood is open and welcoming to everyone, every day.”
Parton herself, who has a number of LGBTQ+ fans and is a supporter of marriage equality, occasionally visits and performs at the park, which, as a whole, is her way of helping the economy and job market near where she grew up.
Democratic Presidential Candidate Pete Buttigieg’s Response
The Democratic presidential candidate has weighed in on the anti-gay comment, condemning the comments.
“Well, he was right about one thing. He’s right that there is a gay man running for president. He doesn’t seem to be right about much else.”
Reporter Sharman Sacchetti of Boston TV station WHDH asked Buttigieg, the first openly gay Democratic presidential candidate if he had any more run-ins with this kind of discrimination and prejudice on the campaign trail.
The U.S. Navy veteran and the mayor of South Bend, Indiana responded with a “sure,” but assured the reporter that it “doesn’t speak for most people.” He tacked on that he thought approaching people with compassion is what matters more.