A hair salon is a space where we can shake off the stress of the day and relax. But sometimes, it can be more than that.
This year in the U.S. 400 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been proposed in state legislatures. And in Tennessee, where best friends and Good Dye Young co-founders Hayley Williams and hair stylist Brian O’Connor recently opened the Fruits Hair Lab salon, transition-related medical care for minors and drag performance have been banned.
While the state government is working overtime to ensure the LGBTQ+ community doesn’t feel welcome in Tennessee, Fruits Hair Lab’s doors are wide open.
“It’s really, really amazing to watch our team,” Williams told Them magazine. She and O’Connor left for tour the day before the salon officially opened its doors, “and by the end of the first week, [salon manager] Erin already had us registered for the National Safe Spaces registry and Strands for Trans.”
“We’re really trying to make sure that if we’re going to do something inside of our community that we’re benefiting the community,” Williams went on to say.
“It’s much deeper than just a haircut in a salon, or a hair colour that you can buy in a box on a store shelf,” O’Connor explained. “It’s about letting people know that those simple things every day can lead you to an intersection in life where you weren’t expecting to find someone to point you in a direction that you didn’t even know you needed to go in.”
“I grew up thinking I wasn’t deserving of [love] in any capacity, male or female, nonbinary; I thought I wasn’t good enough to be loved by anyone – including but not limited to myself,” he shared.
“I do believe that [the LGBTQ+] community — everything I’ve ever known about [O’Connor] or any of my queer friends — those are people that were born into the world to survive the bullsh*t and then put out something that’s better, to leave it better than the way that they found it,” Williams told the publication.
The salon’s intentional air of inclusivity is evident almost immediately after perusing their online genderless hair services list; “Hair has no gender. Our haircut prices reflect the length of time your appointment takes as well as the stylist's education level.”
“Being able to go to a salon with non-gendered pricing is really cool, and having a staff that is part of and also allies of the LGBT community is so important [for me] as a trans person,” explained Merit Gentile, Fruits’ social media manager. “To see other trans people come in here and feel comfortable and have a good experience at a salon is so important, because there aren’t a lot of spaces like that in Nashville right now.”
“Whether it’s things like [Tennessee’s] anti-drag bill or people standing in the way of access to gender-affirming health care, simple, everyday self-expression – it can sound like a shallow conversation, but for so many people, [self-expression] is not a simple thing,” Williams continued.
“There’s therapy in that setting [too],” O’Connor elaborated. “Being a hairstylist since I was 19, I’ve learned to be a therapist. It’s really great that they can come in and feel just so at home. That means more than anything… we’re always gonna be there.”
“From the beginning of time until whatever the end looks like,” Williams stated.
Hayley Williams isn’t the only celebrity trying to create a safer space for people. Ariana Grande told fans “to aim towards being safer and keeping each other [safe]” when she addressed distressing weight loss comments about her body.
Main image credit: @fruitshairlab
Briar is the Beauty Editor at BEAUTYcrew. Her 'down for anything' attitude has resulted in more than a handful of hair transformations, and she doesn't mind being used as a guinea pig for the industry's most unusual products and treatments. Her work has also appeared on Refinery29, Girlfriend and beautyheaven.