10/25/2013 07:36 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Real Men Have Long Hair


Photo by Everett McCourt

Or at least they're not afraid to. I'd tried to grow mine many times, but the detractors always got the best of me. Not this time. Everyone has the right to an opinion, but the passion and vitriol with which many feel the need to berate my long hair is shocking and leads me to think that there's more at stake here than a simple aesthetic issue.

Historically speaking, long hair has been expected from musicians such as me. It's a symbol of our countercultural identification: Choosing to be an artist in such a commercialized, capitalistic culture is a form of rebellion in itself, and long hair is a protest designed to make sure that everyone knows just whose side we're on.

Compared with that of musicians like Jim Morrison, Robert Plant or Kurt Cobain, my hair isn't excessively long. I'm also a gay man, and by far the worst comments are from my peers. I've heard "you'd be hot if you cut your hair" too many times, in comments on my videos or photos on Facebook, or as a rejection on dating sites.

I'd have hoped that my fellow gay men would accept a broader range of gender expressions. You'd think that after being rejected for our differences, we'd be quicker to embrace them amongst our own. Are we so desperately afraid of appearing "feminine" that we crop our hair like Marines and restrict our range of emotion?

It disturbs me how many guys' online profiles proclaim how masculine they are and how uninterested they are in feminine guys, as if there were no spectrum of gender expression, and as if the hard work we went through to accept our sexuality and come out was for nothing but to further divide and separate ourselves from each other.

Of course, tastes and aesthetics are not always personal or political, so I do try to bite my tongue when someone can't control theirs. Whatever the underlying causes for the aggressively negative comments may be, I respond at face value to what is in appearance, a surface issue. After three years, I now answer strangers who tell me how much better I'd look with short hair by telling them that perhaps they're right, but I feel better with long hair.