As I enter Bishop’s Cut and Color in Lowry, Colorado, I am greeted by a vibrant and welcoming atmosphere. The sound of scissors cutting through hair and the hum of hair dryers fills the air, but what catches my attention is the confident and unique look of the clients leaving the salon. As I make my way toward a chair, I spot Becka, a queer hairstylist who specializes in gender-affirming haircuts and coloring. Her contagious smile and relaxed demeanor invite me to sit down and chat about her work at Bishop’s Cut and Color, a salon that is breaking down gender norms with its ‘genderless pricing’ policy. I can’t wait to learn more about Becka’s passion for creating inclusive and empowering hair experiences for all. She makes the difference between queer accepting and queer affirming strongly known in her day-to-day life of helping people feel like their best selves.
GayDenver: Thanks for joining us. Why don’t you start by telling us about yourself?
Becka: I’m a queer mom in a great relationship with my wonderful wife. I love to support my community and make people as fabulous as they can be! I’ve been doing hair for about 13 years now.
GayDenver: Where are you from? How long have you been in Denver?
Becka: I grew up in Southern California. I moved here seven and a half years ago, and have lived in Denver for most of it. Right now I’m living in Aurora. I’ve been working at the Lowry Bishops cut and color for about two and a half years now.
GayDenver: What got you started in hair styling?
Becka: I was a theater kid in college, that’s what my degree is in. I was working primarily with the wig and makeup and costume departments. The pay didn’t match the work I was doing. I realized that I could still work with hair but as a beautician. I like working with my hands. I enjoy working with people to make them feel on the outside, what they feel on the inside. That’s incredibly important to me. I realized I could still make a difference in people’s lives without the theater.
GayDenver: So you were working with the costume departments on wigs and theater hair?
Becka: Yes, that’s it exactly. So, so many wigs. I worked as a caregiver while I was in college, and I helped cancer patients with their wigs and their haircuts and styling for their wigs as well.
GayDenver: What do you like about the profession?
Becka: Something that’s really on my heart is gender-affirming haircuts. It’s so important to me especially since I’ve got my little kids that started as a different gender than they are now. It’s so interesting and beautiful to watch them grow up. That glow they get when you give them (the hairstyle) they want is everything. Everyone deserves to have that experience, of being seen and understood.
At my first job out of cosmetology school, there was this woman that came in and her hair was a mess. She was a stay-at-home mom, she had four kids under the age of five. She hadn’t done anything for herself in a long time. After we chatted about what she wanted I took her mousey brown hair and turned it a deep, fiery red and textured the heck out of it. When I turned her around in the chair to see the final result she started crying: that’s how much it meant to her. I think about these clients, when I listen to what they want and deliver it, it’s like they are a whole new person. I just crave that, I love that. That’s my favorite part of doing hair, that moment where they feel like themselves again.
GayDenver: Is there any advice you’d give someone looking for a gender-affirming hairstyle?
Becka: Find what makes you happy! Don’t be afraid to dream big, and don’t stop searching until your heart tells you which one to pick. Go to magazines, go online, and find a style that speaks to you. Find something that means something to you. After that, we can have that conversation of, “Well, you want this? Let’s do that. Let’s give you what you want.” Yeah, the biggest thing I always say to people is pictures, pictures, pictures, pictures, pictures…have a picture, have an idea in your head of how you want to present yourself because transitioning is like a rebirth. It is a recreation of yourself, so, finding the self that you want to be is important.
GayDenver: Bishops has genderless pricing for haircuts, and all other services correct?
Becka: That’s such a large and understated piece of the business. It takes away gendered language, which is something that I feel like we’re moving towards more as a society but I’d like to see more of, of course. Calling a shortcut a shortcut removes all the unnecessary fluff that can get in the way. And then also if you identify as a man and you have long hair, it’s going to be a different process than if you have a short haircut. It takes the ambiguity out of the language but leaves it neutral and open for interpretation, so we can see you, the person.
GayDenver: Are there any hairstyle trends you like?
Becka: It’s not a mohawk but it’s similar. Super short on the sides, longer on the top, and then it goes down the back of the head a bit. I enjoy all the variations in that style. I’m also a little infatuated with really clean lines. Sharp, distinct borders.
GayDenver: What are hairstylist stereotypes you don’t understand the appeal to but you can do?
Becka: The traditional Joe Dirt mullet I will never understand. Fashion mullets I can get behind but I just don’t understand the traditional mullet’s revival.
GayDenver: Is there a style that you typically cut or like?
Becka: I do a lot of very piecey, shaggy layered cuts. I use a lot of razor work and slide cutting. I cut in a way that creates movement and texture. The texture is really important to me.
GayDenver: What is your coming out story??
Becka: I mentioned that I was a theater kid. I went to cast parties often but had convinced myself that I was straight. I made out with a lot of girls at the cast parties, but I did not date any girls until my wife came along. I remember when I spoke to my mom…my parents are very conservative Christians. When I told my mom that I’d started seeing someone she just asked, ‘It’s a woman isn’t it?’ She had my number, that’s for sure.