Queer hairdressers know best that one of the purest forms of human expression is hairstyles. What you have on your head can say a lot about who you are and what your style is. The way that you do your hair can attract friends and partners, speak your truth to the world, and allow you to feel comfortable in your own skin. Long, short, dyed, shaved, up, down — your hair is just as unique as your personality is. That’s why it is so important to find someone who will treat your hair just as kindly as you do. Someone who understands that the right cut or color can change your whole life. Someone who is just as creative and expressive as you. Someone, well, queer.
I’m not saying that queer people are more innovative and visually intuitive, but that’s not what I’m NOT saying. There is a reason that queer people are stereotyped to have funky hairstyles. So if you are looking to get a ‘do that speaks to you, here’s a list of some of the best stylists and barbers in the business.
You may know her from her appearance on the reality show Shear Genius, her appearances on The Tyra Banks Show and The Biggest Loser, or from her countless features in beauty publications and fashion shows. Tabatha, originally from Australia, opened her own salon in Ridgewood, NJ, but eventually sold it to collaborate with and teach other hairstylists. In her personal life, she has been with her partner since 1997 and works with the St. Baldrick’s foundation to make wigs for children with cancer in honor of her mother who died of cancer. She travels all over the world as a platform artist for Joico International. She’s not just A hairstylist; she is THE hairstylist.
Once Howell cut her hair short, she felt like she had found her place in the world. To help people like her find their place in the world as well, she opened up a barber shop in Salt Lake City, UT called Friar Tuck’s Barber Shop. Friar Tuck’s boasts that it’s the “queerest barber shop in SLC” and holds fun events like mustache and beard competitions. You can find places like this in some big cities, but in a conservative state like Utah, having a queer friendly barbershop is a haven. Howell has given countless customers the chance to feel like they are truly themselves. Howell’s story was picked up by Dove and featured in commercials about what it truly means to be beautiful. And what is more beautiful than making other people feel beautiful?
As if NYC couldn’t get any cooler, Ryczko opened up a gender neutral barber shop, Hairrari, to give people from all walks of life the exact look that compliments their style. Her team creates mesmerizing fade designs and stunning transformations. You can find them in locations all over the city as well as at pop up events like Hot Rabbit parties and Ozyfest. I happened to see Ryczko and her crew at the Priday party at Hot Rabbit, and they looked like they were having the most fun out of everyone there. They were cutting people’s hair in the middle of the club, which seems like a weird idea, but if you saw a cutie on the dance floor, you could hop in the chair, get a fresh look, and steal their heart. GO Mag caught up with Ryczko earlier this year — read the full interview here.
Lopez may be beautiful on the outside, but the most stunning thing about them is their heart of gold. Lopez gives free haircuts to LGBTQ homeless youth out of a Airstream trailer that they park outside the LA LGBT Center’s Youth Center. On a marker board outside the trailer, Lopez leaves a question about personal expression and self-love that customers must answer in order to get a free haircut. This initiative is part of a project they started with their wife called ProjectQ, which also gives workshops to LGBTQ youth. Their project was featured in MTV’s documentary Transformation and grew so much that they needed to add another barber to make sure they were able to serve the influx of interested people. They set out to give back to the community, and they have given everything and then some.
Camera Ready Kutz, located in Brooklyn, is not just for the LGBTQ community; it is for everyone. Khane enrolled in barber school after hearing horror stories about mistreatment in other neighborhood barber shops. Khane started cutting hair in a redone bedroom of her apartment, and after 10 years, a client helped her open her own shop. GO Mag did a full feature of Kutzwell earlier this year — check it out here.
A barbershop called Refuge for Men doesn’t sound like it would be run by a lesbian, but I present you the most ironic case of “don’t judge a book by it’s cover.” Reid opened her barber shop in Richmond, VA because after spending so much time in barber shops, she started to appreciate the craft as well as the atmosphere. She wanted to provide a “refuge” from cheesy chain shops that did not have the same feel as a neighborhood barbershop. Not only that, her shop is involved with CARITAS, the one of the largest homeless shelters in Richmond, VA, making it both a look good AND feel good place.
Hop on Pinterest, find your new look, then find a queer hairdresser that will kill it! Your style will thank you.