Barbs in Charge: 10 Bold LGBTQ Icons with Short Hair

Barbs in Charge: 10 Bold LGBTQ Icons with Short Hair

By Megan Andrews

Barbs in Charge: 10 Bold LGBTQ Icons with Short Hair

Happy Pride 2022!

Here at Barb, we celebrate Pride 24/7/365. But hey, we’d never turn down a party or parade, either. All June long, we’re celebrating all the stylish, short-haired humans who made way for LGBTQIA folks today.

From the Victorian era’s Radclyffe Hall to the longest-running LGBTQ character on TV, short-haired folks have been giving us reason to celebrate for centuries. (And looking damn good, too, might we add!)

It was nearly impossible to whittle this down, but we had a blast working on this list of our 10 Barb Icons to celebrate Pride this year!

Important legal caveat: while we love to celebrate these Barbs, this content is only for editorial purposes and does not imply endorsement. Living Icons: feel free to slide into our DMs for hair products 😉

1. Radclyffe Hall (1880-1943)

Rebel rouser Radclyffe Hall shocked post-Victorian conservatives with her 1928 novel, “The Well of Forgiveness.” The book was so scandalously *gay* that after just four months on the shelves, it was banned. The myth of a ‘gay agenda’ isn’t anything new 🙄

When Radclyffe was two years old, she inherited a large sum of money from her Dad. This helped fund her “unconventional” lifestyle. Unlike most women at that time, Radclyffe wasn’t required to marry or work (gasp!). She lived as an aristocrat in Paris, dressing in tailor-made suits, dapper vests, and rocking a monocle.

To channel Radclyffe Hall this Pride, experiment with styling your sideburns, or try writing a poem to your cutest crush.

2. Gertrude “Ma” Rainey (1886-1939)

Gertrude “Ma” Rainey – “The Mother of Blues” – is remembered for her intense, guttural singing style almost as much as her unique, opulent fashion style. Ma wore head-turning accessories like gold teeth, satin gowns, and ornate headpieces every time she took the stage.

Lyrics like “...must’ve been women/cause I don’t like no men'' added fire to flame. Fans speculated about her sexuality and relationship with her mentee (and fellow bisexual singer) Bessie Smith.

So to channel Ma Rainey this Pride, throw a feather in your hair and crank her “Moonshine Blues” album.

3. Babe Didrikson (1911-1956)

Decades before Abby Wambach adorned middle school lockers, Mildred Ella “Babe'' Didrikson turned heads as one of the greatest athletes to ever exist. Not only did Babe absolutely dominate in basketball, golf, baseball, and track and field – she was the first lesbian gold medalist, ever!

Babe, with her athletic build and interest in sports, never conformed to the traditional ideals of femininity. Her hair was cropped short "like a boy’s" and she wore men's slacks and shirts until she was forced to present more femme for corporate golf endorsements (there's gotta be a joke somewhere in there). 

To channel Babe Didrikson this Pride, hit your fave barber for a fresh chop – and maybe even join that queer sports league you’ve been eyeing.

4. Chavela Vargas (1919-2012)

Chavela Vargas was born in Costa Rica in 1919, immigrated to Mexico at age 14 and sang her way from street performer to Grammy Award winner. Chavela sang "from the perspective of a man" and refused to change the pronouns in her songs. There’s even a rumor that she had an affair with Frida Kahlo (!!!).

When she returned to performing later in life, she wore eccentric ponchos with a feathered gray bob. And although Chavela subverted gender norms throughout her life, she only officially came out through her autobiography in 2002.

To channel Chavela Vargas this Pride, embrace a feathered bob or perform a shameless love ballad to whoever will listen.

5. Stormé Delarverie (1920-2014)

Hailed as the “guardian of lesbians in the Village”, Stormé Delarverie was a fierce queer elder and butch badass. She rebelled against oppression and fought on the front lines at Stonewall in June 1969.

This biracial activist and performer was born in New Orleans. She kicked off her legendary career at the Jewel Box Revue NYC in 1955. Stormé slayed as the only “male impersonator” in the only racially integrated drag group. After performances, this brazen babe would hit the streets in her fitted suits and detachable facial hair. In her words: “I was doing it and then [other lesbians] started doing it!”

To channel Stormé Delarverie this Pride, show your short cut extra love with a fresh style session at your barber -- or rock that three-piece suit.

6. Barbara C. Jordan (1935-1996)

Fifty years before “The Squad” burst onto the scene, Barbara C. Jordan was blazing a trail for women on the Hill. An enthusiastic and dynamic political leader, Barbara became the first Black Woman elected to the US House of Representatives.

She broke barriers establishing Texas’ first minimum wage-anti-discrimination bill as well as the Texas Fair Employment Practices Commission. During the televised Watergate Trial, she commanded the floor. Viewers connected with her reasoning and wisdom, and her statement received national acclaim. She spent the last years of her life championing the protection of civil rights for more Americans, living quietly with her domestic partner, Nancy Earl.

To channel Barbara C. Jordan this Pride, bring out those natural waves in your short cut and volunteer your time to a political organization.

 7. Sally Ride (1951-2012)

Not only was Sally Ride the first American woman in space, but her anti-gravity hair inspired animators working on Ariel’s hair movement for “The Little Mermaid.”

The first images of Sally in space showed her smiling in her blue NASA space suit, communications headset atop her curly brown hair. She’s now embraced as the first acknowledged gay astronaut, confirming all of our middle school crushes. Though Sally Ride passed away in 2012, her sister and LGBTQ rights advocate, Rev. Bear Ride continues to expand Sally’s legacy.

To channel Sally Ride this Pride, apply Barb to damp hair to accentuate your natural curls, or stargaze with your sweetie.

 8. Renee Richards (1934- Present)

Way before trans athletes “offended” Fox News reporters, Renee Richards proved that trans-athletes deserve to compete – and win. She shook the tennis world as the first trans woman to enter the US Open in 1977. Renee served mega looks on and off the court with serious style in form-fitting tennis whites, scandalously short skorts, and bold bucket hats.

Her reintroduction to professional tennis came 24 years after her last appearance in the 1968 U.S. Nationals. She transitioned in 1975 and when she began to play again in 1976, most of the participants withdrew. This didn’t stop Renee from twice becoming a semifinalist in mixed doubles and coaching Martina Navratilova through two wins at Wimbledon.

To channel Renee Richards this Pride, rock a sweet sweatband over your Barb or hit the courts for a game of doubles.

9. Sara Ramirez (1975- Present)

Long before #CheDiaz overtook our Twitter feeds, actor/singer/non-binary royalty, Sara Ramirez played the longest running LGBT character on US television (Calzona).

Sara came out as bisexual and non-binary after 12 seasons of Grey’s Anatomy – and we stanned even harder. With new pronouns came a new hairstyle: they lost the long locks and stole our hearts with a mile-high pompadour undercut. Sara’s undercut is a bold and fashionable declaration that makes space for joy in all their newness.

To channel Sara Ramirez this Pride, style your hair as high as can be. And, in the words of Che Diaz, “Change your life.” Or, if your life doesn't need changing, “Dm me if you want to chill.”

10. Brandi Carlile (1981 - Present)

This genre-bending musician shared a “Story” that will never get old. Brandi Carlile has earned a whopping 18 Grammy Award nominations and released seven studio albums. Along with her career, she is a vocal advocate for LGBTQ+ rights and came out in 2002.

This bold babe dropped out of high school to pursue music. After teaching herself piano and guitar, Brandi began performing in Seattle music clubs and recording new songs at home. Her second album’s title track, “The Story”, catapulted her career. Brandi’s still rocking out and throwing that wavy brown bob around on stage.

To channel Brandi Carlile this Pride, try out a “mixie” cut or just grab the nearest guitar and belt your awesome queer heart out.

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