Khane Kutzwell on Thriving as an LGBTQ+ Master Barber

Meet the Homegirl: Master Barber, Camera Ready Khane

by Abeeda Hussain-Kasim

Edit by Divya Seshadri

Khane Kutzwell has transformed the potential of the barbershop environment, completely bulldozing through the stigma of owning a business in America as a queer black woman.

There is no doubt that most barbershops are defined by their heteronormativity, which can exclude of non-gender-confining people, LGBTQ+ folk, and people of color. Barbershops may seem harmless, yet to members of marginalized communities, they’re often anxiety-inducing — not only do they have to worry over a new hair-do, but they fear being discriminated against. Khane grew up an environment where mistreatment was rampant against queer people of color, whether they were being refused service, not getting what they asked for, being questioned in front of others, or enduring derogatory remarks.

Khane Kutzwell set out to change this. To battle this discrimination others faced, she didn’t create an LGBT+-only barbershop, or POC-only barbershop.

So, what did she do?

She made a barbershop that’s open to everyone. A barbershop that radiates positivity, acceptance, and what she calls “plain human decency.” One that is not held up on signs, as if Khane was doing other communities a favor. To Khane, this attitude of acceptance stems from the expectation that everyone should experience fair treatment at her barbershop.

Motivated by speakers like Les Brown and Lisa Nichols, Kutzwell brought her barbershop to life. She is inspired by those who pursue their goals. By the people who have self-created a entire world for themselves and shared it with others. By musicians, artists, and athletes. These individuals helped her find the drive to create her own barbershop. The entire world around her powered her to keep going, a resource she was never reluctant to tap into while making something wonderful.

Khane’s zeal and effort during the difficult early push to get her shop up and running is something no one can ever take away from her. Although she was constantly downplayed due to her looks as a dark-skinned, black, gay woman, Khane was resolved to conquer all challenges.

As a female master barber in the LGBTQ community, barbering is a business that holds a tremendous amount of significance in Khane’s life, contributing to the progression and and flourishing of herself as a human being. With beaming smiles and determined eyes, Khane Kutzwell, equipped with hair clippers, a hair dryer, and a thriving barbershop, has become her own hero.