Articles > Business > What Would You Do: Coming Out To Your Clients
August 1, 2018

What Would You Do: Coming Out To Your Clients

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What Would You Do: Coming Out To Your Clients

If a client were to ask about your sexual orientation, would you proudly share your preferences or do you feel like it’s a personal matter that should stay personal? One of our members is in need of some guidance on the matter, so we turned to the BTC community for their input! Check out the question below, then keep reading to see what advice fellow stylists had to offer!


“I am a gay hairstylist and I wanted to know if my fellow LGBTQ hairstylists have a hard time ‘coming out’ to their clients. Some of my friends think I shouldn’t say anything, but it’s super hard as you’d be surprised by how often little things come up even in just normal conversation. I know this a more personal question, but I’ve found it hard connecting with clients sometimes because they ask personal questions and, in fear, feel I need to lie about my life. What do you do in these situations—be out and proud or keep your personal life to yourself?”


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Live Your Truth


“Own who you are and never apologize for it. If they can’t love you for who you are and the great hair you can give them, then they don’t need to be your client! My clients love and support me for who I am. My clients have met my husband and celebrate our relationship. Not to mention, women love gay men.” – @realericvaughn


“In my opinion, the only way to unleash your fullest potential as both an artist and a person is to live your truth. Like many others have said, be unapologetically you! Nine times out of 10 it’s a non issue, and I truly believe that it allows you to build amazing rapport with your guests when you can be your authentic self. If someone has an issue, then it’s not a good fit and you should send them on their way…When someone asks me, I don’t bat an eyelash when I say, ‘Oh my husband and I are doing XYZ this weekend.’ To quote Jen Sincero in the book You Are A Badass: How To Stop Doubting Your Greatness And Start Living An Awesome Life, ‘You are the only you there is, and ever will be.’ So go out there and be the most awesome you there is!” – James Pike


“Be you and be true to you. Art is more beautiful with honesty, and if any guest wishes to not sit in your chair because they don’t agree with you being you, then shame on them. They suck. I have never let my sexual preference make me feel uneasy. I don’t scream, ‘I’m a lesbian’ from the rooftops while balayaging my guest’s hair, but I don’t hide anything from them either. They love you doing their hair regardless of who you fall in love with and those that accept you for you are worth all the clients in the world.” – @vikiscissorhands


“Be true to yourself! I would hate if I just assumed someone’s partner was one gender or another and was never corrected, only to later find out I was wrong the whole time! I would be embarrassed, so it’s much better to be honest. It doesn’t have to be a big deal. Many times I mention in conversation, “Oh yeah, my husband does that too,” or something similar. There is no reason it shouldn’t be that casual for anyone else.” – Mariah Owens


“Be out and proud! The ones who don’t like it will go to someone else, leaving room for the ones who don’t care and love you! Surround yourself with clients you love and who love you for who you are. It will allow you to love your career that much more!” – Amanda Hawley


“I usually trust my gut. When these things come up, I usually drop tidbits of info that let my client into my life. This usually opens a dialogue. Also, your goal is to build relationships with your clients. Feeling as if you need to hide who you are is not a good start to that relationship.” – @joriedimecostyling


“I think as you get to know your clients, you will know who can be comfortable coming out to. Just let it happen naturally. The ones who cause any sort of controversy just simply are not worth the money. Be you and be proud!” – Paige Elizabeth


“I have certain clients who know I’m gay, certain clients who don’t. Sometimes with a new client I’ll test the water before I say anything, catch their vibe. If they seem like they’d be cool with it and it comes up, I’ll say something. I also just say ‘my partner’ a lot. Some people still presume my partner is male but other people catch the drift that when I say partner, I might not be straight. The hardest thing for me is when people ask, ‘Do you have a boyfriend?’ It’s up to you if and when you come out to your clients. Trust your instincts.” – @emilysavage123



That’s Your Business, Not Theirs


“Gay or straight, you shouldn’t discuss your personal life behind the chair. I don’t know why clients feel the need to know intimate details about our personal lives. I don’t ask my doctor or dentist or lawyer if they have a wife/girlfriend, etc.” – Susy Lukie


“Don’t get too personal. Let them be personal with you. I’m not saying hide who you are, just wait and feel out what kind of person they are. The world is scary, so I really don’t blame you for being terrified. But my advice is to not get too personal and to talk about other things like TV shows or school or family. Your love life shouldn’t come up with your clients—it’s unprofessional in a way. Or you could say code names like ‘my lover’ instead of ‘partner,’ just something to keep away the bad juju.” – @saralynn_beauty


“Someone’s sexual preference is nothing to be talking about and it’s nobody’s business but your own! It’s definitely not a topic to be included in the convo during a stellar service. Try talking about their hair instead. And furthermore, hairstylists who do nothing but talk about themselves are really annoying to work around.” – Debra Gonzales


“I’m a lesbian and I’m out but I usually don’t tell clients. Some clients know and some don’t. I work in a very conservative Bible Belt and I just don’t feel safe telling everyone. You must do what feels right to you.” – Starla Carr


“I believe that your sexual preference is not a public right to know about. I share it with the clients that I feel I want and can share it with. If I don’t feel comfortable telling a client, I usually answer in a bit of a mysterious way because we are not asking our clients what they do in their beds or who they are doing it with! So I think you know who you can come out to and who you can’t. Just remember that it’s not their right to know—you always get to  decide!” – @andersremnas


“I feel no need to clarify my sexuality for the comfort of others. I identify as pansexual, but that opens a whole new conversation I don’t love having. My clients come for my work and personality, part of who I am is my sexuality, but only part. If they find out, they find out. But so long as their colors and cuts are great, who cares? And if it bothers them that I’ve dated women, they aren’t for me.” – @oliviavandermillen


“Your personal life is exactly that, personal. Clients want you to listen to their life stories, they really don’t want to hear yours. I have been in the business for 51 years and have seen a lot of hairstylists come and go. Keep it about them, not you.” – Jenise Lithgow


“My question is why? Why do you have to come out to your clients? Who cares what you are as long as you do good hair? If they ask a personal question like, ‘Are you married?’ Simply respond with, ‘Yes, I have a wife or a husband,’ whatever the answer is and move on. Really, no one is going pry. If they’re uncomfortable, they will change the subject. They won’t stop coming to you if you already have them as a client and they love their hair.” – Lisa Flansburg



But Be Prepared For Some Strong Reactions…


“Many years ago I was helping another hairstylist (male) who was finishing a standing client. A new customer was referred to him. He had a quick 5-minute consultation and I began helping at the bowl with a shampoo…The new customer seemed hesitant and said, ‘If he’s gay, I don’t want anything to do with him!’ I already begun shampooing with her looking like a drowned rat. I said, ‘What do you want to do at this point? You’re all wet and he will be ready as soon as I finish here in just a few more moments.’ Then she said, ‘You do it.’ And I told her no, wrapped her head in a towel and talked to the manager. The manager came back and escorted her to THE RAC (reserved for a$$holes chair). My manager said she’d finish her out (simple blow-dry, no cut, no style products—not even hairspray). A couple minutes later, my manager said she was done and the woman threw a fit. She was informed that all stylists were hired based on their talents and skills. Their lifestyles were of no concern to the customer as long as it didn’t affect their work on the clientele. She also said the salon also would not be a good fit for her and that the salon wanted no part of her…” – Theresa Akin


“As a gay hairstylist, I tend to read my client first and let them tell me who they are, and if they seem like an open-minded person then I say something. But I’m also sad to say I have some clients who I don’t think would approve of me being gay, so I just say I’m focusing on my career with no time for dating and that kind of drops the subject. I hate that I feel like I have to hide who I am. But in the city I’m in and the demographic, I just don’t feel comfortable telling everyone. I don’t recommend it but sometimes that’s how it’s gotta be. I can’t afford to lose my great clients just because I’m gay.” – @hellokayceeee


“Only one time did I ever have an issue (that I know of). I was doing a haircut on a guy similar in age to myself who grew up in the area my salon was (I think he was home from college for summer). We were getting along really great. He told me something about his girlfriend, and I told him something similar about my boyfriend. We kept chatting, no big deal. A day or two later the salon owner took me outside and let me know his mom complained that I was discussing my ‘lifestyle’ too much, so I wore rainbow suspenders to work the next week. I’m employed by a manufacturer now and I think all the salons I work with know I’m gay, although I’m lucky to live and work around San Francisco now. Regardless, it’s a casual thing to discuss. I don’t make it a big deal. If it’s relevant to the conversation, I include it (ex. ‘Yeah, my husband told me about that restaurant!’). For those saying it’s 2018—it’s still a complicated issue for us. This acceptance is still new and we’re still navigating the normalcy.” Michael Long


“I lost some clients when I came out, and a client of another hairstylist said some pretty cruel things. However, my co-workers/friends stood by my side. On the flip side, a client came to me for advice because her teenage son is gay and she wanted to make sure she was being as supportive as possible. So there is a lot of good that came out of it, too. I just got so sick of filtering myself and not living my truth even in my work life. Just be yourself and anyone that doesn’t like you, well, that’s their loss.” – @cateainsworth


See what others had to say on Instagram and Facebook!



Need more advice? Here’s what the BTC community had to say about refunding an unhappy client!