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keep it queer

Keep It Queer is an original feature on my blog where I talk about being queer and all the various things this has meant to me over the years. Sometimes this will also involve me babbling about LGBTQ books. It’s also a chance for others to share their stories.

So, I got a haircut a couple weeks ago, and getting a haircut always feels like a huge deal to me, partly because one time, while I was getting a haircut, I honestly felt like I was being interrogated by my hairdresser about whether I was a lesbian, and it felt so uncomfortable that I wanted to crawl under the chair and disappear forever.

So, understandably, this has made me nervous about getting haircuts since. And honestly, I've had so many comments over the years from hairdressers about how I shouldn't get my hair cut too short because then I "will look like a boy" or something similar. I'm sick of it.

Haircuts are so complicated because for lots of queer people, I imagine, haircuts don't hold much significance. But for many other queer people, haircuts can be a big deal. Check out allll the posts that Autostraddle has under their "alternative lifestyle haircut" tag, for example! Certain haircuts can be a great way for queer people to express their queerness and to recognise other queer people.

I like getting my hair cut short. And yes, for me personally this has something to do with me being queer: I feel like it's part of my queer aesthetic, just like the plaid shirts I like to wear a lot. But I also just plain like having short hair. It's a lot easier to deal with, and I feel like I look a lot better with short hair than with long hair. I had long hair when I was younger and I didn't like it. I just feel much more comfortable, much more myself with short hair. And honestly, I just get a short pixie cut. It's not even that queer, and yet!

Back in November last year, Open Barbers came and did a pop-up in Oxford for Queer Week. Open Barbers describe themselves as "queer friendly hairdressing for all lengths, genders, and sexualities" (websiteTumblr | Facebook | Twitter). They're based in London, and if you're in or around London and you're queer and/or have had some bad experiences getting your hair cut elsewhere, I would really suggest giving them a try! They're super affordable as well. I'm really glad I managed to get my hair cut with them; they were so supportive and tried my best to make me feel at ease even though I was super nervous (especially getting my hair cut in England for the first time).

So anyway, this time, I just went and got a haircut in the cheapest place I could find in Oxford, and it was actually a fairly good experience – my hair was cut the way I wanted it to, without much judgement or the person telling me: "isn't that a bit short?" In fact, the woman who cut my hair was like, "I used to love getting short haircuts when I was younger!" Buuuuut she also said, during one part of the haircut, "Don't worry, it won't be like a boy's!" Which made me wince.

Honestly, the process of getting a haircut is still such a gendered thing, and I absolutely hate it. I don't want to hear about how something is for boys rather than girls. When I complain about how women's haircuts are more expensive than men's, I sometimes hear people saying to me, jokingly perhaps, that I should just try going to a barber's. But I've definitely heard stories of people who have been rejected from barber shops for "not being men". And it sucks, because there are obviously a lot of people with non-binary, fluid, complicated gender identities, with gender identities that might not match how they present themselves, and the strict binary gender divine that most hairdressers/barbers seem to operate on is outdated and doesn't work for a lot of people. It leaves a lot of people feeling uncomfortable and excluded.

All these assumptions that straight, cis people make about haircuts need to go. I, as a queer girl, may feel like having a short haircut enhances my queer aesthetic, and I, as a queer girl, may look at other girls and hope that they're queer based on the length and/or style of their hair, but that doesn't mean that people who aren't queer and who are cutting my hair have a right to assume anything about me and further, to go as far as to make comments about it and to question me and my choices.

I don't feel like I see queer girls (or queer characters in general) in YA talk about haircuts all that much, and I'd like to. I'd like to see characters in YA challenge traditional thinking about haircuts!

Have you had any interesting/terrible experiences with getting your hair cut? Is the way your hair looks important to your queer identity? Have you ever read a queer character in YA who actually cared about their hair a lot?

top ten favourite authorsTop Ten Tuesday: Hosted by the Broke and the Bookish!

top ten authors

1) Terry Pratchett: I was absolutely heartbroken when he passed away last month. I cried for at least an hour. I started reading his books when I was around 14 or so and I loved them so much. I've only read just over half the Discworld books, and I've also read Nation and Good Omens, but really that already makes over 20 books of his that I've read – I've read more books by him than I have by any other author. He was a prolific author, of course. I am so glad and so grateful that he left behind so many wonderful, funny, insightful, poignant books – that having read over 20 books by him, I still have more than 20 books of his that I've yet to read.

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top ten characters check inTop Ten Tuesday: Hosted by the Broke and the Bookish!

top ten characters check in book1) Noah & Jude from I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson: I loved them both so much, especially Noah, and I just really want to see what they do with their lives and their incredible talents and their passion for art.

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ten recent tbrTop Ten Tuesday: Hosted by the Broke and the Bookish!

top ten recent tbr

1) The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu: OH MY GOD THIS IS THE NUMBER ONE THING I AM MOST EXCITED FOR EVER. If I'd heard about this book earlier I'd have included it in my 'top ten 2015 debuts I'm most excited for' list at the beginning of this year. BECAUSE HOLY SHIT. Fantasy based on a period of Chinese history!!! 'A cross between the Iliad, Three Kingdoms and Lord of the Rings' (from this review)!!! Do you guys know how much I love the Iliad? I LOVE THE ILIAD. I cannot be more excited for this book if I tried.

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keep it queer

Keep It Queer is an original, biweekly feature on my blog where I talk about being queer and all the various things this has meant to me over the years. Sometimes this will also involve me babbling about LGBTQ books. It’s also a chance for others to share their stories.

Since it's Contemporary Conversations this month, I thought I might choose a quite contemporary topic! THE INTERNET. Now, what does the Internet have to do with being queer? I think these days, it has everything to do with it, and I wish more LGBTQ YA contemporary books would reflect that!

I practically grew up on the Internet. From around the age of 9 or 10 I was already on the Internet, with a personal blog, talking to strangers. Now I knew this was something I shouldn't do, but it was fun, and I was always sensible. I grew up in a household where nobody really talked about gay people, and I didn't know any either, so I didn't actually even realise that gay people existed, that it was possible to like someone of the same gender as you, until I discovered fanfiction on the Internet at the age of 11.

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