Dolly Parton gifts Texas drag queen Brigitte Bandit a bejewelled guitar

Dolly Parton performs on the Pyramid stage on Day 3 of the Glastonbury Festival at Worthy Farm on June 29, 2014 in Glastonbury, England.

Dolly Parton helped one Texas drag queen to end a tough year on a special note, after gifting Brigitte Bandit with a signed bejewelled guitar.

Bandit spent her 2023 campaigning against her home state’s attempts to introduce drag bans and anti-trans legislation.

In April, the Austin-based drag queen went viral when she fought in court for the LGBTQ+ community and other drag performers, while wearing full drag.

She spent the rest of the year campaigning before politicians, joining a legal case in opposition of Texas’s anti-drag Senate Bill, and speaking out on social media – all while performing shows and hosting regular events.

Dolly Parton in a Dallas Cowboy cheerleader outfit.
Dolly Parton has gifted prominent Texas activist and drag queen Brigitte Bandit a custom acoustic guitar. (Getty/Ron Jenkins)

It has, no doubt, been an exhausting few months for Bandit, but country music idol Dolly Parton made sure the drag queen knew how much her efforts were appreciated with a special gift.

Bandit was performing a show in downtown Austin on Friday (29 December, 2023), when she was presented with a large box wrapped in pink paper.

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Opening the box in front of her audience, Bandit pulled out a beautiful custom acoustic guitar covered in rhinestones and signed by Dolly, herself, NBC affiliate KXAN reports.

The message from the “Jolene” singer read: “To Brigitte. Love, Dolly Parton.”

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Bandit shared a video clip of the touching moment to her Instagram, revealing her shock when she realised who the gift was from.

After the gig, Bandit told KXAN that she was still struggling to wrap her head around the surprise gift.

“I honestly can’t believe it’s even real,” Bandit told the local news outlet. 

“I keep staring at it being like it’s just going to disappear, and I’m going to wake up from this dream because it’s just – it’s just wild. It’s very exciting.”

She continued: “Dolly has always been such a huge inspiration. I do call myself the Dolly of Austin. My very first paid booking was a Dolly show. 

“Whenever I started to get a little bit more traction in the drag community, for some reason, Dolly and Brigitte just got together, and I was booked for so many Dolly events that eventually I just ended up becoming the Dolly. Often if somebody wanted a Dolly, I was there.”

Although Parton herself has famously declined to comment on politics in any of her interviews, Bandit believes that this gift is a political statement in itself.

“It’s a public statement to send a guitar to a drag queen in Texas right now that’s fighting this kind of anti-drag and anti-trans bills, so I love Dolly for supporting the community and making sure that the people who are doing this feel heard,” she said.

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“Everybody’s excited to see that people notice what we’re doing here.”

Speaking to PinkNews about her sudden, unexpected move to political activism last year, Bandit said: “When I started drag, I would have never imagined this is where my career would take me, fighting for the rights of us, just to f**king wear some makeup and a wig, fighting especially for the protection of trans people right now.

“You see a lot of increased violence against trans people and it’s scary. It’s scary just being visibly queer right now.”

In September, Senate Bill 12, also known as Texas’s anti-drag bill, was shut down by a federal judge and declared as unconstitutional.

While Bandit and her fellow drag performers celebrated the ruling, defendants of Senate Bill 12 have hinted at plans to appeal the ruling.

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