Whenever I meet a new person, the first thing they say to me is always the same:
“We get it, you’re gay.”
The second thing they say to me is:
“I love your hair!”
My hair and I have had quite a journey together. It all started when I was a little boy. I had curly hair as a child, until my mom would make me and my brother get buzz cuts. When we were older, my mother would say, “Your brother had the head for a buzz cut, but we realized later that you didn’t.”
I guess parenthood is all about learning.
When I was in elementary school, one day I got tired of having my hair in my eyes and I decided to cut my own bangs, like Zooey Deschanel or someone. I cut my hair in a straight line across my forehead and told my mom, “Look, now I don’t need a haircut!” The hairdresser had a fun time fixing that one.
When I was in middle school, the cool thing to do was to grow your hair long. I made my first attempt at long hair then, but since I was chubby and my hair had started to grow straight, it made me look like that stereotypical middle schooler you look at in the movies and say, “Wow, that’s bad writing.”
High school is when things really started to heat up. I’d cut my hair short, then it would grow long, then I’d cut it short again. Nothing fancy. Then I came out of the closet and all Hell broke loose. I started to experiment. What would it look like if I straightened my hair? (Not good). What if I dyed my hair blonde for a role in a musical, even though no one asked me to? I still look at pictures of myself with blonde hair and think, “This is the face of alcoholism.”
When my roots started to show, I dyed my hair brown again and moved on. I wish I could say I was wiser, but college proved me otherwise. I started to highlight my hair this time, which I thought looked great. Others may have disagreed. Now I started to look like the villain in a Disney Channel Original Movie about rollerskating. But hey, I was learning!
After graduation, I moved out to Los Angeles and my hair got a rest period, for which I’m sure it was grateful. I was an adult now, and I couldn’t come to work looking like a child. I didn’t do anything to my hair for a while. And my hair, finally unencumbered, began to take on a life of its own. I started to grow it out, and to my surprise it had started to become curly again. The more I let it grow, the more curly it got. I got more compliments on my hair than I ever had before (one compliment is still more than zero).
Then one day I cut my hair. The backlash was swift and severe. Everyone asked me the same thing: “Why?” For all the television I had watched in my life, I still hadn’t learned from Keri Russell’s mistakes. So I let it grow out again. And grow, and grow, and grow. Pretty soon it got long enough that I could do a man bun, or a man ponytail, if there is such a thing. People were loving my hair, and so was I. The only downside was when I walked down the street at night, I thought I saw someone following me out of the corner of my eye, but it was just my hair.
I fell in love with my hair, and so did everyone else. “Don’t cut it,” they said. “It’s the only thing about you that has any worth.”
My mother, God bless her, was the only person in my life telling me to get it cut. One time I almost listened to her, and asked a hairdresser to cut off about an inch. “Let your hair do what it wants,” he said, and I have taken that to heart ever since.
Sure, it can be annoying at times. I’ll be eating a sandwich and realize mid-chew that I’m eating my own hair. It’s constantly in my face at work unless I put it in a man-bun. But in the end, it’s worth it. Because even though I’ve never thought of myself as someone who would want long hair, it’s become a part of my personality. And I’m not ready to get rid of it just yet.