For the last two years I've gotten my hair cut by a 20-something gay guy named Devin at the Malstrom Aveda salon here in Salt Lake. He was recommended to me by a friend, and despite the fact that I can only afford his haircuts about every six months, he has never failed me, and I am always happy with the results.
Today I went to him after a very busy day at work, and I was looking forward to my cut, and I was looking forward to looking good, as I always do after we're done. Today I was early, so I went across the street and bought some mums from Whole Foods. Not that it relates, but they always have good flowers for very reasonable prices.
I didn't want to leave the flowers in my car while it was cold, and when we started my dye, we set the flowers an empty table. Usually Devin and I talk about trivial stuff, but the conversation traveled from pets to work to Thanksgiving to where I went to college, and I confessed that I'd gone to BYU.
Devin had mentioned the fact that he was gay several cuts before, and he'd also at some point mentioned that he used to be LDS. Despite this, to my surprise, Devin talked and asked very frank questions about what I believed and whether I'd served a mission and whether I was dating anyone.
He then asked if I would ever date someone who wasn't Mormon, and I told him I had, and that the guy was one of the best people I'd ever met.
Then somehow the conversation turned to my uncle Garth and how he'd been gay and died of AIDS and the things I remembered about it. Was he himself around us? What did my parents say? What did I think at the time?
And I told him the truth. My parents never sat us down and said "Uncle Garth is gay" because it didn't matter. We loved him. The only time I ever remember my mom saying something negative about Uncle Garth was after he had sworn in front of us kids when he was upset about the way Group Health was treating him because he had AIDS. And not that I condone swearing, but in retrospect, I'm sure his anger was justified.
When my hair was in foils he had me go sit in the soft chairs up front while he did another cut, and to my surprise, another worker came and said that Devin had asked her to give me a hand massage. And Devin came out later while I was still sitting there and gave me a little gift package of soothing lotion.
Later when I went back for my cut, he brought it up again. I said that I had a lot of sympathy for gay people in the church...both inside and outside really. And that, although I know it's still not totally smooth sailing, it's a lot easier to be gay in the church now than back in the early 90s with my uncle.
Devin is a fabulous stylist. As we talked, he made my hair look amazing, and our conversation went back and forth from what he was doing with my hair, making sugggestions for the length, and going back to our conversation from earlier.
I was sort of nervous at first talking about my religious convictions with a gay guy who could totally make me go bald if he wanted to. But he was pleasant and sincere, and I think he genuinely wanted to know my thoughts rather than stir up conflict. And I think he genuiney knew that whatever I said, I would be compassionate and respectful.
I said in the last few minutes as he was blowing out my hair that I'd tried to go darker one time with not-so great results. He said, "Yes, I sort of see you as a honeysuckle gal."
It made me smile. And it made me smile that I could have such a good, though-provoking conversation with someone I really liked, even though I knew we had vastly differing opinions on things that were very important to both of us.
I gave him a large tip and one of my mums when I left. He was twirling it as he walked away.