Arnaldo Magnani, Getty Images
"They just think that you can't be that close to somebody," the country icon tells ABC's "Nightline." "Judy and I have been best friends since we were like in the third or fourth grade. I love her as much as I love anybody in the whole world, but we're not romantically involved."
In true Dolly style, she's found a silver lining to the rumors: material to bond with Oprah! The singer says she and the talk show queen have talked about how silly the assumptions are that their best girlfriends are actually their lovers. (Oprah and her best bud, Gayle King, have weathered those rumors for years.)
Ron Galella Collection
Dolly is certainly used to speculation about her love life, which is partly fueled by the fact that her husband, Carl Dean, is rarely seen in public. "I've been accused of being involved with every man I'm ever seen with or worked with," she laments. "Maybe I have, maybe I ain't. I never tell if I have. But you know people always saying that."
Just as Dolly is quick to defend her marriage, she's also quick to defend the gay community. "We're all God's children no matter what," she says. "I know what it's like not being accepted. Through the years, I've had people tell me I should do this or I shouldn't do that. I have a lot of gay fans because they know that I accept people as they are. That's not my place to judge. I ain't God, and I ain't runnin' for office!"
Dolly shares her notorious wit and wisdom in a new book, "Dream More: Celebrate the Dreamer in You," which hit shelves this week. The book is based on a commencement speech Dolly gave at the University of Tennessee in 2009.
"I know that I've learned some things in my life that are important to me, and I think maybe they might be good ideas to pass along to you. Not as advice, but as information that I have found has helped me over the years. Enough to share, and a little to spare," says the American treasure in a statement about the new book. "If you're lucky, your dreams will never die, you may not always achieve them, but if you always have dreams and reach for them, you'll never be a failure. I still have dreams of what I want to do next."