Meet the queer hair community driving the return of the mullet to Colorado

Meet the queer hair community driving the return of the mullet to Colorado

“I had a mullet,” Burns said. “Most of my friends had skulls. We just looked crisp and punk.”

Some of those hairstyles are back. If you see Burns’ Instagramyou will see many iconic haircuts from the 70s and 80s.

“A lot of these iconic rock stars, musicians, poets, they had this look and people were intrigued or offended by them, but they were definitely identified as a certain type of person,” he said. “I think furry, mullets and all those weird looks have almost been reinvented over time because people want to be seen as they are, especially these days.”

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Ezra Burns sits in his lounge chair in a shared study space in Colorado Springs.

Queer hair studios are springing up all over Colorado

Burns isn’t the only barber in Colorado promoting a safe space for queer people. Maeve Londono owns MAL Queer Hairdressing Studio in Boulder with her partner, Mateo Londono. They both identify as queer.

When Maeve was a girl, they wanted a short, faded buzz cut, which many would consider a man’s haircut. No one would give it to them.

“[My stylists] They were like, ‘Oh no, honey, you don’t want scissors on your head. We’re going to give you a nice, soft, feminine haircut,’” they said.

He wasn’t feeling well, so they started cutting their own hair. That’s a common coming-of-age experience for gender-nonconforming kids. Now, Londono makes a living cutting hair, hoping to help people in her community avoid the same bias they experienced from hairstylists.

After a stint cutting hair in a Florida neighborhood known for its LGBTQ+ community, Londono moved to Boulder. They were surprised that the city, which is generally considered young and progressive, did not have a studio dedicated to queer hairdressing.

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Maeve Londono cuts Eric Moore’s hair on July 24, 2022.

“I realized that we needed a space where people could feel safe and comfortable to talk about how they want to present,” they said.

Londono’s clients pay special attention to what kind of people will be attracted to someone with their cut. A radical style can help prevent awkward misidentifications, especially in the dating world.

“A lot of my clients will honestly say, ‘Give me a haircut that makes straight cis men not talk to me,'” they said. “They are looking to attract other people in their community.”

Londono is not in the business of asking their customers what number they want and then cutting it off. They have long queries about what shape, length, texture, color, and density someone wants.

Those intentional conversations naturally seep into personal identity more often than not, and that can create a more balanced relationship with customers. Ultimately, that is the point of offering a safe haven to help people find themselves.

20221031-QUEER-HAIRPaolo Zialcita/CPR News
Mateo and Maeve Londono pose in front of Indie Salons in Boulder, where they opened MAL Queer Hair Studio.

Different communities have different needs.

Londono and her husband Mateo hope to expand beyond haircuts and address hair issues specific to the queer community.

Mateo, a trans man, dealt with hair loss after starting testosterone therapy, something many stylists have not experienced. He started wearing a hair ornament, which is like a little wig, after the transition. The effect was immediate.

“I just feel younger, more energetic,” she said.

The experience helped inspire the couple’s goal of eventually offering a service focused on hormone-related hair loss. Those types of businesses are not common, especially in areas where trans people may not feel comfortable coming out in public.

Many queer people of color face a similar lack of services focused on their specific needs. The Queer Hair Studio Scene Is Overwhelmingly White, And People Like It curley round they may have a hard time finding places that know how to cut textured hair and create a safe space for queer expression.

20221031-QUEER-HAIRPaolo Zialcita/CPR News
Rhonda Curley in her new studio space at Denver’s 16th Street Mall.

Curley recently opened Curls, Kinks and Coils, a hair studio in Denver’s 16th Street Mall. She hopes to serve people like her and teach her children why that job is important.

“When [queer people of color are] confident, they just shine a little brighter and then they can have an easier time in life, than being BIPOC and being queer, it’s hard enough,” Curley said. “So let’s make it a little easier and at least make you feel like you look good.”

A bill prohibiting discrimination based on a person’s hair it was passed by the state legislature in 2020. Still, Curley says many people of color are hesitant to embrace their natural hair even though it is protected by law. She says that she used to share that mentality but she learned to love herself.

“It’s so freeing to walk away from that and start truly living your life and finding that love for yourself because you can’t love yourself when you’re trying to be someone else,” Curley said.

That self-love can come in all shapes and lengths, and for some people, that means getting the crispiest, punkiest mullet money can buy.

20221031-QUEER-HAIRPaolo Zialcita/CPR News
Customers waiting at MAL Queer Hair Studio can pick up magazines and stickers designed by queer artists while waiting for their haircut.

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