Queer Girl City Guides

By: Anna Burns
Edited by: Brendan Walsh

When I started college, my hair was more or less waist-length. Over time, I decided to chop most of it off – it was more or less butt-length. The stylist at the Aveda Institute was very excited to do the deed – as a beautician-in-training, it was the greatest amount she’d ever removed in one go.

After that, my hair stayed around shoulder-length for about six months, and then I started cutting it myself. A few inches here, a few inches there – by the time I was ready to start my junior year, I had a very chic bob. (Maybe “chic” is the wrong word to use when you’re cutting your own hair with a pair of old and somewhat rusty sewing scissors, BUT most people were surprised when I admitted to cutting it myself.)

But that wasn’t enough. I wanted more.

It’s a common enough story: girl has long hair, girl starts cutting hair, girl realizes she likes short hair, girl keeps wanting shorter hair, girl finally decides to go full masc and slap a $20 into the nearest barber’s hands. I wasn’t precisely nervous, though, I did have concerns. I didn’t realize it at the time, but a large part of my desire to cut my hair stemmed from nascent gender dysphoria (the feeling of discomfort that sometimes goes along with having a body that doesn’t match your internal gender identity), and the thought of ending up with a “girlish” pixie cut was just as off-putting as the thought of going into an all-male hair salon and trying to convince everyone to take me seriously. I doubt either of those events would have been particularly catastrophic, but still, I wanted to avoid them. I wanted to go somewhere that I could ask for a men’s haircut, get a men’s haircut, and not be made to feel ridiculous for it.

So, naturally, I googled “queer-friendly hair salons in Columbus” and stumbled across a treasure trove.

Queer Girl City Guides

You thought this was going to be a story about a hair salon, didn’t you?  If you did and were waiting for the denouement, I went to Lucky 13, located at 3131 N High Street, and had a very nice time, but that’s not what this story is about.

This story is about the wonder that is Autostraddle, an independent online magazine by and for queer women and non-binary folks, and about the subset of that wonder, Queer Girl City Guides.  Although these guides are written infrequently (the most recent, for Indianapolis, was published on July 10, 2018), if you can find your city of interest, they are a goldmine of information.

These guides are written by people who live in the cities, rather than by outsiders who tour them, so they offer realistic insights and opinions about the best places to eat, drink, party, get a tattoo, go shopping, or get involved in activism. While not all of the reviews are focused on specifically queer-friendly or queer-oriented spaces, there are certainly enough to set these city guides apart from others. For example, the Columbus guide includes Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams as a must-see but also points out Slammers, a specifically lesbian sports bar.

Queer Girl City Guides was my introduction to Autostraddle as a whole, which is a more-than-adequate gateway into all things queer, from book and movie recs to pertinent political happenings. So, if like me, you occasionally find yourself a bit fed up with all the cisness and straightness of the world, hop on over to Autostraddle. Check out some fashion, add some TV shows to your Netflix list, and who knows, maybe even plan a vacation! It can be easy to feel isolated, but the world is out there, and it’s waiting for you!

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