I knew that I was a lesbian very early on. As I reached my twenties, it was clear that I was a butch lesbian, with more “male” energy than “female.” But my long hair and curvy body was not supporting my self-image. That had to change. It’s not that I wanted to be a guy exactly, I just wanted to be able to pass as one—the hair, the look, the attitude. For me, it was not about altering my body so much as it was about altering my hair. The right haircut would put a swagger in my step, a bit of mischief in my eye, and help me attract the femme woman of my dreams.
Where does one look for the proper butch-boi haircut? I figured that the Castro District in San Francisco was fertile ground. I found a small two-chair chop-shop right off Castro and Market and sauntered on in. A sweet looking gay hairstylist wearing a tight t-shirt, hip jeans, and slip-on loafers was sweeping up the hair from an older gentleman who’d just received a buzz cut. Perfect, I thought. This is just the type of hairstylist I need. I nodded in his general direction.
“May I help you, sweetie?” He asked without returning my glance. Sweetie? I thought to myself. Hmmm, this isn’t off to a great start.
“Ah, yeah, I’m looking for a haircut,” I replied, careful not to let my voice rise at the end of my sentence. I wanted my words to be a statement, not a question. When girls usually talk, their voices go up at the end of the sentence, as if they are not sure they have permission to speak. Guys’ voices don’t.
He stopped sweeping for a second, looked me over in a clinical sort of way, and without having his voice rise up at the end replied, “Hmmm, honey, have a seat. You had better wait for our girl to come back. She can give you what you want.”
Crap, I thought. I don’t want a woman—gay, straight, or bi—to do this. I want a man—and preferably a gay one—to give me the perfect look. But I sat down and flipped through those ridiculous books with all the head shots that showcase different hairstyles. I went right to the “male” book, figuring I’d find the perfect J. Crew style to usher me into my desired look.
Into the shop walks “the girl”—in a tight black skirt, pumps, and a very flattering green top that accentuated her God-given attributes. She was tan, she was toned, and her brown eyes settled on me as she gave me a slow, sexy smile. Yeah, this might work, I said to myself.
“Hi, do you have the time to give me a haircut,” I asked in my most charming voice.
“Do I know you?” she asked.
“Not yet,” I tell her.
“Hmmm, you look familiar and I never forget a face. Come sit in my chair, handsome.”
Handsome? Yeah, I was likin’ this already! So I sat in her chair. She began playing with my hair, running her fingers through it, seeing how it fell over my forehead, checking out its natural wave. Her touch felt good and I started to relax.
“So what can I do for you today? Let’s start with your name.”
“Juan. Nice to meet you, Jodi.”
What? Say who? Juan?! How could her name be Juan? Oh, wait, oh, oh oh! She’s a HE! Then I looked more closely for the telltale signs: Breasts? Check. They look real. Mannerisms? Definitely female. Broad shoulders, but so what. Adam’s apple? Shit, she’s a guy.
“Honey, I feel you staring. Yes, I’m transitioning. I’m taking female hormones. And the breasts, they are all MINE! You like?” She pushed them closer together and towards me.
“Yeah, they look great,” I said. But I was kind of freakin’ out—not because of her, but because I was attracted to a man. How could I, a card carrying lesbian abandon my tribe?
As all of this is going on in my mind, I say to her, “Hmmm, I should probably go. I don’t know if you are the right person to …”
Juan spun me around in her chair and got this real excited look on her face and triumphantly shouted, “Now I know who you remind me of! Your chin, your New York accent, your nose. It’s unbelievable! You look exactly like my first lover, Myron—the Jewish, gay, rodeo clown!!!”
She took my head in her big, strong (yet soft) hands and tilted it towards her face and passionately said, “I am going to give you the haircut I always wanted to give him, but never did!”
I quickly assessed the situation and thought, you know what, this could work. Truth be told, I don’t think I could have gotten out of her chair now, even if I’d wanted to. I don’t think she would’ve let me.
Juan was on a mission and interestingly enough, so was I. Somehow, fate had conspired to have our mission’s paths intersect.
Juan kept me in her chair for well over an hour telling me stories about her rodeo clown lover. She laughed, she styled. She cried, she cut. She laughed some more, she put product in my hair. She was not doing this for me. It was her homage to her first love and their connection. And I enjoyed every second of it.
My love-cut hair helped me feel like a guy. I just wasn’t figuring on feeling like a Jewish, gay, rodeo clown sort of guy. But you know what? It really worked. Best hair cut of my life.