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Barber Talks returns to discuss belonging at the barbershop

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This year on Nov. 3, the Center for Campus Wellness, in collaboration with the LGBT Resource Center, and the Black Cultural Center’s “Male Success Initiative” program are proud to host the third biannual “Barber Talks” community discussion and free haircut event. This unique initiative offers a safe and inclusive environment where men, specifically men of color, can engage in open and meaningful community discussions and receive a free haircut from local professionals.

For the event this year, we are excited to announce the ongoing partnership with Regal Barber Co, a steadfast supporter of this event, and are honored to bring on queer and trans barbers of color from Lucero Hair and Wellness to the team for students seeking a LGBTQIA+ community affirming experience at the campus barbershop.  


The primary objective of the program is to create an inclusive and welcoming space for men and masculine students. Ephraim Kum, program coordinator at the Black Cultural Center, touches on low retention and enrollment rates and discusses how initiatives like “Barber Talks” can help address these issues.

“The Male Success Initiative (MSI), a program out of the Black Cultural Center, aims to support the belonging and success of male-identifying students, with an emphasis on men of color,” said Kum. “At the University of Utah, and across the nation, enrollment, retention, engagement, and graduation rates of men of color have been disproportionally low. The Male Success Initiative works to address these issues through events and collaborations such as ‘Barber Talks.'”

The program, seeks to broaden access to wellness resources and facilitate conversations surrounding mental well-being by hosting dialogues about pertinent issues, including “Finding Resilience through Rap” and “Masculinity and Wellness.”  

Although barbershops were originally designed for haircuts, they have evolved into something much more. Internationally acclaimed barber, Matt Brown, highlights in his 2019 TEDx Talk, that a barbershop can serve as one of the rare spaces where men can have their voices heard, feel genuinely understood, and embrace their authentic selves.

The University of Utah is not the originator of this program but is building off a movement across college campuses and countries to engage men. Within society, traditional gender roles have presented distinct expectations for men. Men have typically been depicted as strong and as authoritative figures, often under pressure to conceal their emotions. This adherence to societal norms can cultivate harmful masculinity, which is characterized by stereotypical attitudes and behaviors of men that harm both men and society at large. With this narrative, it discourages men from openly expressing their emotions and being vulnerable, as such actions might be perceived as a sign of weakness. Barbershops provide a unique space to challenge and change this narrative.  

Join us on Nov. 3, at “Barber Talks” to celebrate the power of inclusion, conversation, self-expression and enjoy a new fade!