Dolly Parton has addressed rumours that she is secretly a lesbian by saying that if she was she would have come out of the closet years ago.

The singer, 66, is currently promoting her new book, Dream More, and told the New York Daily News, that she had endured rumours about her being gay, arising from the fact that her husband of 46 years, Carl Dean, opts to stay out of the limelight.

She addressed the fact that some critics had suggested that Mr Dean didn’t exist, and that others had speculated that she was a lesbian, or linked her to other men. She said:

“I’m not gay. If I was gay, I would have come out of the closet just a-flying,” she said.

“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.”

Despite saying that she held “no sadness” about not having a family with her husband, she did say she sometimes daydreamed about what their children might have been like if they had.

She went on to say that she had no plans to step out of the spotlight: “I’m not gonna retire. Not unless it was for health reasons, like I lost my mind and didn’t remember what business I was in,” she joked.

Last month Dolly denied accusations that she had engaged in a sexual relationship with one of her oldest childhood friends, Judy Ogle.

The star also revealed that she once entered a look-alike drag queen contest (of herself) and lost.

She previously apologised to a lesbian couple after one of them was ordered to reverse a t-shirt with a gay slogan when visiting her theme park.