This is Ode To…, a weekly column where we share the stuff we’re really into in hopes that you’ll be really into it, too.
If you were a gender creative kid growing up in the ’90s, you had exactly zero places to go for style inspiration.
Sure, K.D. Lang once appeared on Ellen. RuPaul was RuPaul. And if you closed your eyes, you could maybe imagine yourself with Jonathan Taylor Thomas’s mushroom cut (be glad your mother didn’t allow that.)
Twenty years later, some of that has changed. Thanks to Instagram, there are so many queer and queer-friendly barbers out there, providing style tips, inspo, and role models to LGBTQ teens online (as well as 34-year-old adults who work for Mashable.)
“I think that barbershops in general are historically pretty cis male spaces,” Alana Lucia, owner of Baddies Barber Studio, told Mashable. “Then salons were historically cis female spaces. People who are exploring their gender want to go to places that understand the fluidity of gender.”
As a queer barber, Lucia tries to fill the gap between by creating an inclusive space where both queer and trans and straight and cis people feel comfortable. She notes that even sensitive barbers who want to the work with the LBGTQ community may not work in shops that are quite as friendly as they are. She says the barbers were trained to serve one type of customer (straight, cis), and they aren’t always sure how to treat queer customers who walk in:
“They think they need to do something different,” Lucia says. “They don’t realize that they don’t need to treat them any differently … It’s fear”
The knowledge gap is large. So, for the vast majority of the queer community who don’t have access to queer friendly barbers (or sensitive barbershops), queer barber influencers on Instagram provide the hair tips — and sometimes just the hope — folks need.
Here’s a few of our favorite accounts:
Baddies is Lucia’s Brooklyn-based enterprise, with cuts available via appointment only. For people who don’t live in the area, the Instagram feed alone is a source of happiness (and hair envy).
In addition to being an absolute delight to follow on Instagram, Lopez founded Project Q, a salon and organization that aims to help “LGBTQIA and homeless youth combat bullying, develop self esteem and find an identity for themselves through hair styling.” Project Q is based in Los Angeles but will be giving free haircuts to LGBTQIA homeless youth all across the U.S. for the month of October.
C’mon! That’s about as beautiful as it gets.
Ryczko is the founder of Hairrari, a network of gender-neutral barbershops in New York City. Nearly every masc-of-center queer person I know got their first queer haircut there in their 20s. Hairrari’s feed is delightful to follow, regardless of whether or not you like fades.
After graduating from barber school in 2007, Kutzwell went to work at a traditional barbershop and encountered more than a few obstacles.
“I didn’t like the looks my clients got and the questions I was asked after they left about their sexual and gender preferences,” Kutzwell recently told Go! Magazine.
Now, Kutzwell owns a queer and trans-friendly barbershop called Camera Ready Kutz in Brooklyn’s Crown Heights. The account isn’t updated often, but it’s super positive and great to scroll through on dark days.
Prior to becoming a full-time barber, Marshall spent eight years as a community organizer.
“I knew from the jump that I wanted to be the barber for other queer, trans and gender non-conforming folks,” Marshall recently told Bustle. “Getting your hair cut is supposed to be a relaxing thing. But for our community, it can be very intimidating, traumatizing, and sometimes violent.”
The account is small, but mighty and growing.
There are more queer-friendly barbers out there, so be sure to support your local queer barber on Instagram. They make the internet a nicer, more attractive place.