5 queer-friendly hair salons shaking up the gender binary

Hair has no gender, but salons and barbershops haven't historically been super inclusive.

by Hannah Ongley
21 June 2017, 2:00pm

i-D Hair Week is an exploration of how our hairstyles start conversations about identity, culture and the times we live in.

Hair salons and barbershops have long been places that shapeidentity and social discourse. From Ancient Greece and Egypt to the South Side of Chicago and 5th Ave NYC, it's not just physical transformations that take place inside these spaces. But the private nature of barbershops and salons can be a big deterrent for trans, queer, and gender-nonconforming folk looking for a fresh fade or glossy balayage. Here are five spots changing the gendered hair game by creating inclusive environments for all.

X (Philadelphia)

Emily Costello opened her trend-shunning salon just before Donald Trump became president. In March, while millions of women were striking to protest his administration's misogynistic agenda, Emily had good reason for keeping Salon X's doors wide open. Most of her clients are female and queer, but she also wanted to show solidarity with her staff. "We have our 10 Commandments of the things that fly and don't fly at X," Emily explained to Meredith Graves. "Two are that we don't discriminate, and we won't stand for prejudice in any shape or form. So I've made it very clear with the staff that I want them to feel, especially in the time of Trump, that they have a space they can go to, regardless of home life or whatever." Salon X aims to empower clients through unconventional and architectural haircuts. Prices are gender-neutral, but that's not the coolest part — they're also determined based on your lifestyle, needs, and budget.

Vacancy Project (New York)

If one of your NYC-based Instagram faves recently got a shaggy ear-grazing bob or perfectly imperfect fashion mullet, chances are it was done by Vacancy Project's Masami Hosono. The salon's short hair sorceress wants her business to be a welcoming space for people to just hang out — in fact she doesn't even really care if you don't get a haircut. Vacancy Project actually began as a zine documenting the city's youth in their most intimate spaces as an exploration of how hair relates to identity, vulnerability, and relationships. Earlier this year, Masami joined the increasing number of hairstylists doing away with gender-pricing. And the timing wasn't entirely random. "After the election, so many female clients came in to chop off their hair," Masami recently told Allure. "I think people needed a change — they were like, fuck it. They wanted to do something defiant to feel stronger. My transgender clients wanted new hairstyles to identify with their gender more confidently, too." Here's to fighting the power with fashion mullets.

Logan Parlour (Chicago)

Logan Parlour's stylists specialize in majestic rainbow balayage and ultra-slick cropped fades — styles that have historically sat at opposite ends of the gender spectrum. But this salon's gender-neutral pricing and general lack of prejudice say otherwise. Co-owners Tricia Serpe and Jamie DiGrazia are both longtime champs of LGBTQ rights (Jamie recently offered her services for a special Queer Care Day timed for Pride Month). And Logan isn't just about bitchin' no-judgement makeovers — the inclusive atmosphere boasts a salon bar where you can enjoy a complimentary post-cut beer, a gender-neutral bathroom, and decor so cool it makes mosts salons look as sterile as a dentist's office.

Seagull (New York)

Seagull's proximity to Stonewall Inn isn't a coincidence. The boutique West Village hair oasis was founded in 1971, during the height of the gay liberation period, and prides itself on being the city's first unisex barber shop. Seagull then packed up its record collection and wall art and moved over to West 10th Street. But after more than 30 years away, Seagull scored a sunny loft on the second floor of its first home. The salon is now under the management of stylist Shaun Cottle and riot grrrl icon Johanna Fateman, who founded the feminist post-punk outfit with Kathleen Hanna in the late 90s. It's little wonder that Seagull is the go-to salon for Tavi Gevinson, Eileen Myles, and Carol Bove, all women whose portraits would be right at home on Johanna's wall of feminist icon photography. Shaun, meanwhile, has worked his platinum magic on writer Emily Gould, "Pandrogeny" artist Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, and UNIFEM director Joanne Sandler.

Glama-Rama Salon

From short and long cuts to wedding hair and wig styling, Bay Area mainstay Glama-Rama serves all looks for all genders. "Welcome to our Rebel Spirit, Unicorn Magic Glama-Rama Hair Salon and Gallery," reads the salon's Instagram bio, above a wonderfully outrageous stream of rainbow Pride Month manes. Glama-Rama's stylists have established cult-like followings within the city's LGBTQ community. And the salon doesn't just do hair. Glama-Rama has been a strong supporter of the local art scene since opening 18 years ago, regularly hosting exhibitions of work from emerging and established artists plus the salon's own staff. Glama-Rama now has an equally fabulous sister location in Oakland for hair freaks who can't always trek to the Mission District.

Read more: Life lessons from Johanna Fateman, former Le Tigre member and salon owner


Text Hannah Ongley
Photography Nika De Carlo

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