3 Alternative Natural Hair Looks For Scissor-Shy Curly Queers

I love my long natural hair. It is part of my heritage, my identity, and even my career as a performer. Some days, I wish I had an alternative look that might express my queerdo feels, but there’s no way I’m going to cut it all off (again). Natural hair doesn’t really lend itself to versatility, not easily at least. I rock what natural hair connoisseurs call a “wash’n’go” which sounds super simple and easy breezy but actually entails about 30 minutes of conditioning, detangling, and finger curling to smooth out the wily bits. Not to mention the approximately 20 minutes of blow-drying, which only does half the job. I spend the rest of the day with a slowly expanding afro. It is dry by maybe 4 pm. I’m really not kidding. It ain’t easy being natural, but it feels good. It feels healthy and like a part of who I am. I follow a few natural hair bloggers that make more complex natural hairdos look so easy, but I’m skeptical about the ability of the layperson who wants to achieve these looks. Given that doing my hair can be such a chore anyways, I decided to give a few of these styles a shot, and rate them based on ease, time, and queerdo suitability (1 being the easiest, quickest and milquetoast-iest, 5 being the hardest, most time consuming and gayest, respectively).

Janelle Pompadour


I actually did this one for Halloween one year, and I can definitively say that it is easier the second time around. Make sure you do it with dry hair; it’s even easier because even if your curls aren’t at their perkiest, you can disguise them within the pouf, so it’s a good “day 3” hairstyle (hair that hasn’t been washed for three days). But it ain’t for the faint of heart. I’m going to need a few lessons in sass before I have the self-confidence to rock this one outside of the house. Ease: 2, Time: 1, Gayness: 5.

Uncanny, n'est pas?  Janelle via Mark Abraham Photography

Uncanny, n’est pas?
Janelle via Mark Abraham Photography


You get the idea.

You get the idea.

This one is normally super easy if you start out with freshly washed hair, but I wanted my hawk to be more floppy, if you know what I mean. So I spent 24 hours with my hair in bantu knots (little knobby twists all over my head), disguised under a sweet head wrap. Those were fun to unravel, and then I just pinned up both sides into the center. Make sure to pin the sides as close together as possible, to achieve maximum height in the hair, otherwise it will be too wide and your head will look boxy. Ease: 5, Time: 5, Gayness: 5.

worth it just to unravel those little hair doodles.

worth it just to unravel those little hair doodles.

Top Knot Bun With a Twist

It’s supposed to be easy enough, but I just ended up with what looked like a fresh pile of poop on top of my head. This might be a better style for people with longer hair and tighter curls so it’s easier to achieve the volume. Anyways I’m not even gonna post a picture ’cause I looked that bad y’all. Ease: 1, Time: 1, Gayness: 1.

Next time I’m gonna lock myself in my bathroom for an entire day and do temporary yarn dreads. Stay tuned.

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Hannah Hodson

Hannah Hodson is a 22-year old Brooklyn-bred writer and actor. She graduated Hampshire College with a very valuable BA in Theatre and Black Studies. She currently resides in DUMBO, Brooklyn, where she admires the view while writing poetry about gentrification, climate change, race, class and other heavy stuff, but tries to keep a positive outlook on it all. She recently met Abbi and Ilana from Broad City (IRL), and has photos to prove it. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter, for her thoughts on Beyonce.

Hannah has written 36 articles for us.


  1. Hannah you look so cute!!

    I suspect my curly hair doesn’t have enough body to make this work. But I’m gonna try!

    • Ooh but maybe if you teased it you could do the janelle thang and we could be twinsies!

  2. I love the first two styles! I really encourage you to wear the pompadour out of the house because you look amazing! Also, more pics of you as Janelle Monae for Halloween, please.

    • Agreed, it really looks great on you. Especially love the little scarf at the back. Maybe wear it around the house for a few days until you get used to the feel of it and your reflection in the mirror? Then you can get out there and wow the universe unselfconsciously!

  3. I’m constantly wondering how to up the gay with my long curly hair. Queer cuts + curls don’t seem to work (unless you’re Carolyn). I don’t think I could rock the above (tho the fro-hawk looks fantastic) but anyone else have any suggestions to gay up the curls?

    • Shave part of it. I know this sounds bizarre and yeah, growing it out is a fucking nightmare but it looks great with curly hair and is trendy right now.
      Splash unexpected colour through your bottom layer.
      Get sidebangs (the gayest of bangs, for sure).
      I think the faux-bob look is pretty queer, where you pin the longest layers underneath to make your hair look shorter, also looks great with curls.
      I also think going for a tonne of volume in your curls + adding a very dramatic side part looks hella queer.

      (I have super curly hair and spend a lot of time thinking about this, apparently)

  4. Pompadours are one of my favourite hairstyles, you should DEFINITELY wear it IRL. It looks great! Also… Fro-hawk is tooooo damn good. <3

    • Dude even I didn’t think I had the patience for it, but the results were pretty tight so im gonna see what else I can do with Bantu knots.

  5. Love these looks! Not sure if I’m curly enough to pull them off as beautifully, but it gives me inspiration to possibly go long again.

  6. I opened this article because Janelle Monae is my everything.

    It sounds like you and my mom do pretty similar stuff hair-wise. She has a Jewfro that requires finger curling with conditioner every time she washes it- super time consuming.

  7. I once locked myself in my house for a weekend to try faux yarn locs. Then I wept as I took them out because of how terrible they looked. And the fact that I had to go to work the next day.

    So good luck!

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