Hair is a crucial, if not one of the most important aspects of one’s external identity. Being easy to modify in terms of color, length, and even shape, hair act as a blank canvas upon which individuals can express and explore their identity.

This identity usually takes a turbulent form during our teen years, with the sudden spurt of hormones, but it is even more turbulent for some of us, namely members of the LGBTQ+ community. These kids often find it even tougher to fit in and find acceptance, not only with friends and family but often even with themselves. Feelings of being ‘out of place’ or ‘not quite fitting-in’ can often leave a young queer person isolated and ostracized. But as many begin to accept their unique differences and embrace their sexuality, a sense of ‘pride’ begins taking shape. Pride allows queer people to celebrate and flaunt their true identity.

Whether turmoil and confusion, or pride and acceptance, our inner identities often manifest directly onto our physical appearance- ranging from personal style, to quirky make up, tattoos and piercings or vibrantly dyed hair. This unique and highly individual style that most queer people develop is not only a subtle public rebellion, an act of bravery against a society that seeks to repress them, but also an intimate and personal way of self-expression and exploration.

Thus was born hair that was non-normative, an attempt to both stand out as proudly different, or fit in on the preferred end of the spectrum. But the LGBTQ community’s love affair began and truly bloomed in the 70’s, when vibrant hair colors not only became easily available but also were wildly popularized by queer icons of the time. David Bowie caused quite a stir with his eccentric alter ego ‘Ziggy Stardust’, a bisexual alien rock star with flaming red hair, which made him one of biggest gay icons of all times. Queer teens followed suit, rushing to paint their heads bright in solidarity. DIY practices became an important component to queer culture, making it even more personal, and was often the only resort due to the simple fact that salons were socially and financially inaccessible to many gay youngsters.

Today, Bowie’s legacy continues to inspire not only music and fashion, but also the queer community. Much like Bowie, many gay icons throughout history have experimented heavily with their hair colors and overall personal style. Especially today, queer celebrities like Kehlani, Cara Delevingne, Taraji P Henson and many others regularly flaunt bright, vibrant hair in myriad hues. Demi Lovato, who just came out as non-binary in 2021, was recently spotted flaunting cotton candy pink hair. When Katy Perry, who regularly switches up her hair color from one vivid shade to another, sang “I kissed a girl”, the queer community applauded in rapture. Making an emotional speech while accepting The National Equality Award at the 2017 Human Rights Campaign Gala, she shared how as a teen growing up in a conservative home, she had often tried to “pray the gay away”.

Surely no conversation about outlandish fashion and queerness is complete without the mention of Lady Gaga, feisty and fashionable ‘mother monster’ to the entire LGBTQ community. Our takeaway from this discourse? Everyone, but especially queer people, have the right to celebrate their identity with hair colors, tattoos, fabulous outfits and the like and express their identity, as and how it pleases them, because baby, they ‘were born this way!’