how to queer above your ears: a love story on national coming out day

alternative lifestyle haircut (n) – A haircut or style that indicates its owner leads a life contrary to that of the conservative or heterosexual world. Also known as “the significant lesbian haircut,” the acquiring of an alternative lifestyle haircut is often seen as a rite of passage into lesbian adulthood, even if it is not maintained after the initial cut. Like a bat mitzvah, but on your head. Examples include: the mohawk, the fauxhawk, the mullet, the sidesweep, and the Tegan and Sara. Phrase coined by Autostraddle.com

I want to share a love story with the world. A story of breaking down barriers and feeling beautiful. And I don’t care if it sounds trite, I’m talking about my hair and I want you to know about it.

Many ladies know what I’m talking about when I say we “hide behind our hair,” because let’s face it, when we’re having a great hair day, nothing else matters. I have been blessed with pretty great hair, too. Thick, straight, and a pretty light brown that looks nice with my hazel eyes. Though it’s been through its stages (white blonde, pitch black, pink spots, and even dreadlocks), it’s managed to stay at least below my shoulders and always in whatever fashion-place I’m in. It was my special hiding place if my skin decided to break out or my clothes weren’t that great that day. I loved teasing it up and having that total sex-kitten look – you know, the one that makes heads turn. That one.

When I came out, I slowly started to shed small barriers that I had been hiding behind. No more was I talking about how great sex was with so-and-so; I didn’t feel guilty wearing backless shirts and shorter shorts that my ex wouldn’t let me leave the house in. There were these little pieces of armor just falling off, exposing me for who I really was. Something was missing, though. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but I knew I was feeling confident in a lot of places except for one. I woke up one morning at the beginning of summer, complaining about the heat and pulling my hair into a high bun; annoyed with the smaller pieces that stuck with sweat to my neck. And that’s when it began – I started planning the slow destruction of my last barrier.

This was where I started:

Don’t mind me, pointing at that adorable coffee cozy that I got for my birthday. Just notice the hair. It’s nice. It’s comfortable. It’s a good hiding spot. The bangs could go straight across for days I really wanted to hide, I could pull it up or do a side-bun for fancy events…everything. Versatile. Easy. And not who I was anymore.

I made a trip home to the Midwest, and beforehand I decided I wanted to do the cut. Alas, I was bringing my girlfriend and she brought up the point that if I cut off all of my hair and then brought my first partner home, it might be a little too much at once for people like my mom. So, instead, I went with a nice little short bob.

Now you know how cute my sleeping dog is. More importantly, I think this step, though annoying at the time, was necessary. If you’re gonna make a big life change, make sure you’re ready to do it. Make sure it feels right. It’s like doing a trial period of moving in with your significant other, or going to a school tour. If you’re not happy with it, you can let it go. You can grow it out. For me, I was DYING to get the last of it chopped off.

It’s a scary thing to do, to let go of something you don’t realize you’ve been hiding behind for so long. I used my hair as my means for femininity. Though I’m not saying short hair automatically puts you in the queer category, for me it meant it would. I would change my Facebook photo and people would think “Oh, now she’s done it. She’s actually gay. I wonder what so-and-so thinks about it!” I would walk down the street and men would stop looking. That seems silly, right? If I only want to be with women, why would that matter? Well…women weren’t really looking at me beforehand, and if men stopped looking, would anyone? Would my looks be validated? At the end of the day, no matter what you say of “I don’t even care, I do what I want for me,” you still want others to think you look good. It’s natural, and it’s okay.

For me, I had that other side pushing. The side that thought so many things. “Just do it, what’s the problem?” “Fuck what the others say, you’re doing  you the only way you know how.” “You’re finally listening to your mom who always said you had a pretty face.” “It’s very Audrey Hepburn, sugar!” Please don’t judge me for the way I talk to myself.

So I did it. And I’m so, so glad that I did. I came out, and I also came out of a former me as a new me. The me that’s been hiding inside all along. I look in the mirror every morning and whip out a winner’s smile, because I’m presenting my full self. No armor to hide behind. And I feel fantastic.

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5 thoughts on “how to queer above your ears: a love story on national coming out day

  1. funny, i’ve been going through the opposite process. i’ve had shorty short hair since i was 16 and decided this was the year to grow it out again and i have to say it’s really helped me to feel more lady like and sexy. i never thought longer hair would change how i feel about myself but it really has. although I LOVE SHORT HAIR and daily think about cutting it, i’ve decided to force myself to keep growing it until i’m ready to cut it in a way that really represents me. and you’re a pretty regardless of your hair length.

  2. This just resonated so darn deeply with me.

    “If I only want to be with women, why would that matter? Well…women weren’t really looking at me beforehand, and if men stopped looking, would anyone? Would my looks be validated?”

    Seriously, are you inside my skull? Because I’m pretty sure thats exactly what I’ve been secretly and not so eloquently afraid of since coming out ten months ago. And as vain as that might be, it feels good to know someone else felt/feels the same way. Right on, girl. Time to hit up the hairdresser and turn that Pinterest board of short ‘dos into a reality… Yikes!

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