As a Catholic gay man stuck in a solo coronavirus quarantine, I’m distressed and immediately feeling guilty about feeling sorry for myself. Realizing my already high anxiety is the only thing bursting out of my apartment for the foreseeable future, I’ve sought out avenues to manage my stress. I bought my first plant. I tried out a few Euphoria eye makeup looks. And on Monday night, I decided it was time to bleach my hair.
Shit, I really must be spiraling.
When a gay man bleaches his hair, it’s a sign he’s going through a crisis. Broke up with your boyfriend? Go blond. Dog died? Bleach your hair. Feeling wayward at work? Become a baby silver fox.
It’s a right of passage for queer people, specifically naive white gays like myself, to reach for the peroxide bottle when facing a minor inconvenience. It almost always makes things worse.
Concerned I was masking a rash decision (and, if I’m honest with myself, just looking for attention), I asked my Twitter followers: If a gay man stuck in quarantine decides to bleach his hair, is that an understandable crisis?
Boy, did the extremely online gays deliver. There is a whole community of us thinking a sudden quarantine haircut will temper our coronavirus tension.
Some started quarantine newly blond. Online creator Mike Thornwell bleached his curly hair earlier this week — simply because he could, he insists, and not because he’s in crisis. “A lot of people seem to think I’m going through some sort of a dark moment, but I’m actually doing very well right now,” Thornwell tells MEL. Mike, your dye job looks great, but you’re fooling yourself by saying this isn’t a cry for help.
Surprisingly, it’s not just bleaching. A few gay men plan to buzz off their luscious locks. Brooklynite Blake Harper let his roommate chop off his shoulder-length hair Tuesday afternoon after he lost a quarantine round of the game Dominion. After a year and a half growing out his hair, Harper is pleased with his new crew cut — a welcome distraction from the pandemic. “I’m a big believer in symbolic actions as kickstarters for real change,” he tells MEL. “I like making brash but ultimately low-stakes decisions that I might regret.” Harper, I’m so happy for your gay self-actualization.
Smarter gays than I am are waiting until the quarantine is over so they can support a professional hairstylist and stave off a bad at-home cut. “I was supposed to get a haircut yesterday but canceled because of coronavirus,” says Joshua Tranen, who works in publishing. Like the caring citizen he is, Tranen made sure to pay and tip his stylist anyway. (You should too; service workers are getting hit hard by the quarantine.)
Might Tranen’s postponed buzzcut turn into a platinum-blond moment? “Oh, absolutely not. That’s a twink cry for help, and I’d rather spiral a different way,” he tells me. The takeaway here is obviously that Tranen thinks I’m a twink.
The hard truth? Few naturally dark-haired white people look good blond. Unless you have the bone structure of Chris Messina or Zac Efron, your yellow hair isn’t as cute as you think it is. Messina went blond to play a Zara gay in Birds of Prey, while Efron is fucking Zac Efron. If you can somehow make serial killer Ted Bundy even more attractive, then you’re simply a beauty outlier.
Even rich boys like Adam Levine and Jonah Hill couldn’t pull off the look.
Still, part of being a young white gay man means believing that I’m special. I seriously think I could do the impossible and become the one white boy with dark Italian eyebrows and a full brown beard who can pull off platinum-blond hair without looking like a 2000s fuckboy with frosted tips.
So I asked GQ’s grooming expert and queer-media elder Phillip Picardi for his advice. To every young gay bleaching their hair, he offers this: Don’t.
“Especially if you’re dyeing virgin hair, you need to be super-cautious about the wait time,” Picardi says — otherwise you risk “compromising the integrity of your scalp.” Picardi knows from personal experience: He dyed his hair silver in 2014. “My natural waviness and density felt compromised somehow,” he says. “Like a flaccid penis.”
For men with thin or thinning hair or a receding hairline, Picardi says, a bleached haircut will only draw attention to these concerns rather than distract from them. Still, if you’re set on going blond in quarantine, you’ll need a purple shampoo to avoid a brassy color. Picardi recommends the brands Davines and Acqua di Parma. You’ll also need a deep conditioner (try Aesop’s Rose masque) and a scalp treatment (try Sachajuan’s shampoo).
Suddenly I have reservations about my at-home dye job and the number of people I’m putting in harm’s way just so I can inevitably regret my haircut. Plus, I don’t have a face bronzer. And Picardi insists I absolutely need one after spending endless days inside. He says, “Have a little bronzer handy to liven up your complexion for the mirror pictures you’ll eventually take with the caption ‘Corona Crisis!’ or ‘Corona made me do it!’”
No. I refuse to be that guy. I’m an insufferable Twitter Gay, not an InstaGay.
But check in again after two more weeks of solitude — that is, if I haven’t pulled my hair out.