As the years go by, it seems that the modern-day mullet is becoming less about pick-up truck masculinity, and more a statement of gender fluidity. Short in the front, long in the back, this haircut is rising in popularity, and it seems to have taken on a new twist.
The mullet is a hairstyle that has peeked in and out of fashion since its inception. The name was only coined recently, with the Oxford English Dictionary “crediting The Beastie Boys’ 1994 classic Mullet Head for common popularization.” But you may not have known that the famous cut was previously referred to as the ‘Kentucky Waterfall.’
The mullet goes back to prehistoric times (yes, you read that right). Writer Alan Henderson has even written a book about it, Mullet Madness. In it, he shares that prehistoric people discovered early on the benefits of having their fringe cut, and keeping hair out of their eyes, while retaining the warmth that long hair in the back provides. Additionally, it is rumored that mullets were at the inception of western culture, with ancient Greek statues dating back to the 6th century BCE sporting the look.
With such a rich history, it’s interesting to look at this hairstyle now and how it’s shape-shifted to become a marker of gender fluidity and queerness rather than robust masculinity. I personally like to credit the rebirth of the mullet to the likes of drag queen and RuPaul’s Drag Race competitor Crystal Methyd. Methyd has been dubbed the “mullet queen of Springfield, Missouri,” which reminded everyone of the ‘80s singer and mullet king El Debarge. Though Methyd played a huge role in revitalizing the mullet, we’d be really unfair if we didn’t bring up Tiger King’s Joe Exotic. Though this is painfully reminiscent of the first few months of quarantine, when it seemed that no one could stop talking about the Tiger King, it is still important to note the role that Joe Exotic played in the mullet’s comeback as a signal of queer aesthetics.
A general rule of thumb is that it only takes three icons to solidify a trend and make it viral. Here we have three eccentric figures that sport the mullet: Joe Exotic, Crystal Methyd, and *drum roll* Miley Cyrus. These three TV-screen favorites (controversially) all scream gender fluidity and queerness – the Tiger King was queer and polyamorous, Cyrus practically came out while talking about queer sexuality in her marriage, and finally Methyd, who was a runner up for the title of America’s Next Drag Superstar.
If this has not convinced you that the mullet is witnessing a queer rebirth, we have facts that prove it may have actually long been in connection to the LGBTQ+ community: queer icon Joan Jett has rocked the spiky black mullet look, and queer Musician sisters Tegan and Sara Quin sported nothing but matching mullets for years on end. Not to mention Euphoria’s Barbie Ferreira, Billie Eilish, and the lead singer of Christine and the Queens have all donned the look.
Business in the front, party in the back, the mullet is back stronger than ever. Unless you’re in the Midwest, sporting a mullet will absolutely signal gender-fluidity, and let me tell you, we’re not mad about it.