The concept of a queer hairstyle is a tale as old as time, a song as old as rhyme. Traditionally, hair is such a gendered aspect of our appearances and oftentimes one of the first things you notice about a person visually. As such, it makes sense that it has always been a way for queer and trans people to subvert traditional gendered expectations and a binary in general. And once you’ve flipped the script for yourself, it becomes a lot easier to choose what you care to embrace. Because subversion isn’t always flat-out rejection — it comes with staking claim to your agency.
How we wear our hair has so much more to offer than subversion, though — it can also be a pursuit of euphoria, freedom, or play, as well as a way for us to celebrate our heritage and our queerness. Hair can be both a way to flag ourselves to the world as different (which, as many of us know, can have both positives and negatives), while at the same time an affirmation to ourselves of what we know to be true. With a rise in positive LGBTQIA+ visibility, especially in Hollywood, music, and other forms of media, comes the blessing of nuance and diversity in the way we approach things like our appearances. Thanks, in part, to this increase in representation, the ways we have to queer-code ourselves to our community have radically changed and expanded.
As a tool for self-discovery, the journey we take with our hair can be as fluid as queerness itself. Allure has talked to six queer and trans people about this aspect of aesthetic, from the styles to the cuts that feel like home.
Throughout my life, I wore my hair pretty short. I didn’t really express my gender identity until college. I’d come out as queer in high school, and that was fine, but I still hadn’t found ways of performing my gender. I remember my sophomore year of college, a friend of mine went to the salon to get her hair done, and she and the stylist were talking so much about femininity and hair. I’d never thought of my hair as this indicator or marker [in terms of] gender performance the way that I had thought of it as a queer marker.
A couple of weeks later, I cut my hair really short close to the sides and I left the top longer and really curly. The person who cut my hair had asked if I wanted it blown out, and I said, “No, just leave it, because I’ll be working out later anyway.” Usually, I’d straighten my hair because I hated when it was curly, but when I left it curly and saw it a little later, it just gave me this androgynous kind of look that I had always wanted, and that was not even my intention. I hadn’t even embraced the intersections of my identity yet, but at that moment, I remember being like, “This is the start of me wanting to perform my femininity,” and that haircut was really pivotal because it’s the same haircut I have to this day.