Hairstylist Madin Lopez gives free haircuts to LGBTQ+ youth at ProjectQ, the salon they founded.
Lopez founded the space in 2012. It focuses on offering services to LGBTQ+ youth who have or are experiencing homelessness. They started by offering haircuts in local shelters where they met teens who were experiencing homelessness because they embraced their identity. After they saw what an impact offering haircuts had, they turned an Airstream trailer into a mobile salon and gave haircuts around LA. They even went on road trips to other cities to cut hair.
In 2018, ProjectQ got a physical space in LA’s Chinatown—today it continues to provide free haircuts, color, and wigs. It’s supported by grants and a monthly donation membership program. Lopez estimates they give approximately 700 free haircuts a year. The haircuts help many youth define themselves.
Some of ProjectQ’s clients, like Reeves, find that going to traditional salons can be stressful, unpleasant, or worse, and resorted to cutting their own hair before they found the space.
“When I first started cutting my hair, I felt like I was on top of the world, like, wow, I can control, like, this thing,” they said. “Kids who are, like, affected like, by the system, like, they don’t really get a lot of choices.”
Above all, ProjectQ and those involved provide a safe space for youth to feel heard, supported, mentored, and loved.