Gender-affirming haircuts offered by celebrity hairstylist for Pride Month

Published: May. 31, 2023 at 6:24 PM CDT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - For many people hair is a big part of who they are, especially for anyone who struggles with their identity.

Derek Louis is a celebrity hairstylist who moved from California. In California, Derek says he worked with many well-known actors from Lindsay Lohan to Kristen Bell and even Simon Cowell, but he left all of that behind to give the Rockford LGBTQ community a safe space.

“I’ve always had really long hair and I kind of just grow it out and donate it. I’ve never been super into my hair and just kind of let it do its thing,” said Haley Vincent, who is Derek’s first client since moving to Rockford.

Haley identifies as non-binary and says the importance of chopping their hair increased each day. They always had thoughts of chopping it but never went through with the cut, always psyching themselves out.

“I saw someone who wasn’t confident in themselves, someone who was hiding. Who was not going to actively put on the mask but not ready to take it off either,” said Haley.

Haley says keeping their long hair was a way to play the part society wanted them too, but Derek, who now works at Bella Salon in Rockford, encouraged them to embrace who they are.

“I was really nervous but as soon as I sat in the chair I was like, ‘I’m here. It’s time, I’m ready to do this’,” said Haley, “Derek immediately was just like, he knew what a big moment it was for me.”

“There’s a lot of tomboys out there that want short hair and there’s a lot of boys out there that want long, surfer curly hair,” said Derek.

Derek’s Gender-affirming service helps clients find out who they are. The service is a full two hours including a conversation about your hair goals, give you a hair cut, a treatment and a blowout all for $20. The best part, all of the proceeds goes directly to The Liam Foundation.

The Liam Foundation is resource center for the LGBTQ+ community. Their message is to encourage, assist, heal and empower anyone in the community or may be new to the community.

For Derek, this new service hits close to home for him and he says his experience growing up allows him to connect with his clients on a more intimate and emotional level.

“I know I struggled when I was growing up to get comfortable around people because I wasn’t comfortable with myself yet,” recalls Derek.

Derek says that insecurity now drives him to make sure others find that happiness within themselves.

“He was getting it all ready. You know, the long ponytail, braids or whatever. He was like ‘do you want to keep it?’ and I was like ‘no, it’s gone. It’s done, that’s not me anymore,” said Haley.

“Pride isn’t just for the LGBTQ. It’s for everyone, it’s about celebrating yourself and I just felt like right now was the right time to do it,” said Derek.

Haley encourages anyone who has experienced the internal struggles they have to embrace who they are. They say to follow through with whatever change they have been fighting off.

Since their haircut, they have never felt more free.

Derek is offering his specialized haircuts throughout the month of June. Just book an appointment on his website.