Christine Fuston found comfort in her own skin when she saw her reflection in Goldenrod Parlor’s mirror. She traded her long hair for the style she always dreamed of: a pixie cut.
“Now I know how powerful hair can be,” she said. The new hairdo better suited both her personality and her sexuality.
The 27-year-old UF psychology intern chopped her locks last month and returned to the parlor to further personalize it Sunday.
Goldenrod Parlor, located near Flashbacks Recycled Fashions and Hardback Cafe, offered free, inclusive haircuts to the LGBTQ community Sunday in partnership with the Dresscode Project, a Canadian organization that provides gender-affirming educational materials for salons.
The event, called the Gender Free Haircut Club, honored the sixth anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, salon owner Sarah Kleeman said. She said Goldenrod aims to be a safe space for the LGBTQ community during this time.
“Maybe some of them are feeling extremely emotional today, so they can come here and maybe have some peace,” Kleeman said. “When I get my hair cut, it’s a moment where I can actually feel peaceful, feel happy.”
The parlor welcomed queer guests with a large Pride flag proudly displayed in the doorway. The event kicked off with inclusivity anthems “Born This Way” by Lady Gaga and “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)” by Kelly Clarkson.
About 10 people from age 7 to 36 conversed with employees as they showed pictures of the styles they wanted.
Customers wrote their names, pronouns and preferred hairstyles on a sign-up sheet posted by the front door. They were immediately matched with a hairstylist best suited for their preferences.
Jamie Devine-Spears, a 30-year-old pet sitter, had to cut their own hair for 10 years because salons never did it the way they wanted. Even when they tried, hairdressers would make misgendering remarks.
“I wanted a butch haircut, and they would be like, ‘OK, so you want your hair short, but like a woman, right?’” they said.
Once Devine-Spears’ hair became one of their favorite things about themselves once it looked how they wanted.
“I have to like how my hair looks, or I don’t like myself,” they said.
Devine-Spears requested a shorter style to combat the combination of thick hair and sweltering Florida heat.
The event encouraged guests to feel comfortable not only in their hair, but also in their own identity.
Employees handed out small goodie bags filled with items from the Unspoken Treasure Society; a nonprofit organization serving the BIPOC-trans community in Gainesville. From June 20-25, Goldenrod will hold raffles with other local businesses and donate a percentage of their sales to this program, Kleeman said.
Jackie Micieli, a 40-year-old UF museum studies professor, brought her 7-year-old son and 11-year-old daughter to Goldenrod for the first time Sunday.
Hair is a form of her childrens’ self-expression, Micieli said. Her son prefers his hair long, but her daughter dares to go shorter.
“‘Hair has no gender,’ I really like that saying,” Micieli said. “It’s important to have spaces like this that are advertising an inclusive haircut experience.”
Paisley Micieli-Voutsinas, Micieli’s daughter, said she wanted a short hairstyle — one she could pull back into a ponytail when she dances.
"The lady I went to, she really did what I really wanted,” Paisley Micieli-Voutsinas said. “I feel like it kind of expresses who I am.”
Veronica Durant, a 22-year-old UF senior, said she finds it difficult to fit into the queer community, but having control over her hair helps.
“It’s hard because I just don’t really feel like myself,” she said. “Having my short hair, I feel a lot more free. I feel more natural.”
People feel the need to assimilate for the sake of safety, 29-year-old Goldenrod hair stylist Maelee Baxter said, but she wants people to know they’re in a safe space.
The highlight of her day was styling two kids who identify as queer. Her first guest, Mason, wanted his hair to his ankles.
Kim Gallet, a 36-year-old teacher, took time to properly care for not only her hair but herself Sunday. She wanted to break her habit of neglecting her own happiness, she said.
“I need to love myself,” Gallet said. “I lost myself through my career and fostering animals and just taking care of everybody else.”
Nellie Sunshine accompanied Gallet to her haircut. She shed a tear at the mention of her friend’s shift in priorities.
“I’m just so proud of you for doing this for yourself,” Sunshine said through tears.
Allyssa Keller is a third-year journalism major who reports for the Avenue. On a typical day, you can find her at Starbucks, fueling her caffeine addiction.