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Angela Ponce


“When I hear that 53% of LGBTQ+ have to hide their identity at work, I feel very sad. We all need to work and I believe that everyone should have the same rights, the same opportunities and the same dignity”

"My hair truly reflects how I feel on the inside"

I was born in 1991 in Seville and grew up in a small town called Pilas. I am the middle child out of three siblings, I was identified as male at birth and have had to fight for the world around me to identify me as who I am: a woman. I have a deep admiration for my home and I carry Andalusia in my blood.

From a very young age I began to dance, becoming a flamenco teacher and beginning on flamenco catwalks in Andalusia, around 10 years old.

In 2015 I won my first beauty pageant and since then I have been living my dream of being a model, ultimately being crowned Miss Universe Spain in 2018.

I have a firm purpose, which is none other than to continue my career as a model and make an easier path for all those people who for whatever reason are different, but also easier for those who think that their reality is the only one that counts. Defender of Human Rights, today I combine my work as a model, with collaborating with different NGOs and foundations for integration in diversity.



“My hair was politics. Sometimes people would ask me to tone down my hair”

"I worked for 15 years and I never came out"

My hair has always been politics and people have asked me to tone it down in the past.

Despite this I never thought of my hair as something negative.

My relationship with my hair is good, now. Today, I am embracing my hair, embracing my heritage and the way my hair looks.

I worked for 15 years before I came out to my colleagues. When you are not honest about who you really are, all the relationships you have with your colleagues feel fake. When my wife and I were expecting our first child, I realized that I was going to be the one of the biggest influences in this child’s life.

That is when I decided that I was going to have to be open about how I live my life, because how else would I be able to teach my child to be proud of who they are and to be true to themselves?

When I came out, I was scared because for a lot of people it is still a controversial topic. However, I found support in my colleagues, and I think they felt that I was finally being my true self with them.

Cathy La Torre


“Diversity and inclusion is positive for everyone”

"At work I get judged solely because I am lesbian non-binary"

I am a lawyer specializing in anti-discrimination law with a particular focus on discrimination based on sexual operation and gender identity, and on LGBTQIA+ community rights. As a lawyer I have hundreds of work stories to share in relation to LGBTQ+ rights in the workplace and they represent both sides; discrimination and (fortunately more and more) acceptance.

I am a lawyer specializing in anti-discrimination law with a particular focus on discrimination based on sexual operation and gender identity, and on LGBTQIA+ community rights. As a lawyer I have hundreds of work stories to share in relation to LGBTQ+ rights in the workplace and they represent both sides; discrimination and (fortunately more and more) acceptance.

One recent positive story that I want to tell is about this small family-run company with only 6 employees. The only employee not belonging to the family has recently started their transition from woman to man. The owner of the company sent me a direct message on Instagram asking me what they could do to make the employee’s life better in the workplace. I explained to them that they could start by immediately calling him by his chosen masculine name and by creating gender neutral bathrooms in the workplace.

Over the years I have built my identity around my white hair: I have white hair since I was 25 and decided not to dye it anymore when my mother got cancer and she had to stop dyeing it. It was an unconventional choice for a young woman but helped me a lot to define myself for who I am today.

Hair is an essential part of my identity and I believe it is an element to define anyone’s identity. In both cases, natural or not, it conveys the image we prefer of ourselves.

Charlie Martin


“The racing industry is tough as it is so hard to get anywhere without financial backing from sponsors. So changing my appearance and coming out as transgender was terrifying.”

"A big part of my motivation is for everyone to feel that the career or sport that interests them, is as welcoming to them as it is to everyone else. We each want to succeed as a result of being our true and authentic selves, not in spite of that fact."

I entered motorsport by starting hillclimbing at club level in 2004, without any family history of motorsport. In 2014 I won my first race in France at St-Gouëno, breaking the class record by 2 seconds!

Hard work &determination enabled me to progress into single seaters & prototypes which I raced throughout Europe, competing in the Championn at de France de la Montagne & FIA European Hillclimb Championship.

I have had to fight to overcome adversity throughout my life, having lost both my parents at a young age. Entering motorsport without anyone supporting is hard enough, but I also realized that I identified as transgender from as young as 7, transitioning to live as female midway through my career in 2012. I recorded my entire transition on my Youtube channel. Coming into transition, I had a bad experience when a salon accidentally ruined my hair, right at a time when I felt at my most vulnerable. This had a huge effect on my confidence and made me appreciate just how much our hair forms a powerful part of our identities.

Over the years that followed, the condition of my hair returned, and with it my self-belief. In my career as a driver, confidence is key in everything I do, and so living and breathing the identity I always dreamt of as a kid is a profound feeling. Hair is such a powerful element of that identity that it forms part of my strength as a transgender woman in a male dominated sport.I am using my platform as a transgender woman competing in professional motorsport to create awareness and acceptance in an industry lacking LGBTQ+ visibility.

I am a Stonewall Sports Champion and strongly believe in the power of sport to bring people together and create unity, something that is vital with many trans people feeling unwelcome in sport at all levels.

Eduardo Navarrete


“It is important that we give visibility to the whole community so that the new generation can have role models that reflect everyone”

"Being able to be your true self is marvelous"

Since I was a child I always had long blond hair... but when I was a teenager and as a result of the pressure from the school environment and seeking the approval of the majority I cut it. That was a big mistake.

In those moments, when your personality is not yet formed, and the environment and what is “supposed to be normal” makes you feel insecure, you make the mistake of hiding. For me, cutting my hair was a way to do that. Over the years I realized that my personality and identity were strong enough to be shown through my hair as well. The turning point was the moment I went to study Fashion Design: I found myself in a diverse, non-judgmental, creative and free environment where I could fully express myself. I went back to my long hair and, importantly, my high bun which is a part of my personal brand and a part of me.

I am so grateful to be able to express myself through my hair and my profession. I studied my degree in Fashion Design in Barcelona, and just when I finished I became part of the cast of a TV show that looked for a new fashion designer. I was a competitor and worked so hard, which gave me the visibility to create my own Brand by presenting my first collection at the MFMADRIDFASHIONWEEK, and after a few months, I opened my first store in Madrid. Everything happened so fast, but it was the reward for my dedication and hard work. I am very proud to say that my latest collection “TEATRO CHINO” was an ode to diversity, and that is how all the media defined it. I am proud and I feel that my voice is heard through my designs to continue breaking the barriers that the LGBT community still suffers.

The fashion industry is full of great role models for me. Designers who, many years ago, fought to be able to show themselves as they were, through their designs and showing the world their creativity without barriers. They worked so hard so that today, designers like me, can feel free to express ourselves, because they achieved professional recognition and equal treatment that society had not yet fully approved. Feeling that I can be myself, without being judged, without suffering what other people continue to suffer today in their jobs just because of who they are, is something that I appreciate and I am aware is, sadly, a privilege.

Erica Mattina


“For me inclusion is a fundamental thing to make people feel comfortable and that is the world that I want to help create”

Whilst I have never experienced discrimination for my sexual orientation in the workplace, up until now my workplace has mainly been the web and social media and not a physical place such as a company office. What I struggle with though is the fear of saying “my partner” out loud in my daily life to other people because you never know if the person you say it to – a colleague, a guest, a concierge, a receptionist etc – will react. It’s sad that something so normal becomes difficult to say. I have definitely had experiences in hotels getting strange looks when I admit that the room in the hotel is booked for me and my girlfriend as a couple.

Recently I have been more exposed to strangers on social media because of my participation in Miss Mondo. I noticed that compared to my usual fanbase the attitude is totally different and I have received a lot of negative comments about my sexuality. So in many areas it feels like there is still a long way to go to get acceptance for who I am.

I would say that I love my hair, even though sometimes I have a conflicting love/hate relationship with it. I have naturally curly hair, and I can’t deny that I feel lucky. I like my hair very much, but sometimes it can look dry and frayed so I am learning how to take care of it more and more every day. I never cut it because I deeply love having long hair. I never dyed it but prefer to wear it naturally, it feels like me. Hair is fundamental to a person’s identity.

A look change can also reflect a complete and general life switch for many people.

This is one of the reasons why I’m afraid of cutting my hair or making drastic changes it – I’m scare about not feeling like myself anymore.

Having healthy and well-groomed hair means taking care of yourself. And the older I get the more I understand the importance of taking care of myself to feel good.

Joppe De Campeneere


“My hair truly is a form of self-expression to me. My hair evolves together with me: as I explore my identity, I explore haircuts, colours and more”

"I never had someone that looks like me to look up to. I never had someone that looks like me be successful"

I am a content creator at the LGBTQ+ Youth Organization Wel Jong Niet Hetero and an all-round LGBTQ+ Advocate. I focus on everything social media, but I find it important that the work for LGBTQ+ equality goes beyond the digital, into the true, lived experiences of LGBTQ+ (young) people.

I am non-binary and queer. I want to work towards a world in which everyone is free, not only to be themselves, but to do so without repercussions. I believe in questioning the norms and rules that we have been teaching ourselves for centuries, and I believe in moving past those norms and rules, into a life that truly feels like your own, without losing sight of the communities that you are part of. I believe in community-building, in being there for each other and making sure that everyone wins, not only one person.

My hair truly is a form of self-expression to me. My hair evolves together with me: as I explore my identity, I explore haircuts, colours and more. I want my hair to tell a story. Just like my outfits and make-up, my hair is a way of conveying a message to the world: it is possible to go beyond the gender binary, you can allow yourself to break free from gender norms and find the truest version of yourself along the way.

Katy Gramma


“People around us are beginning to realize that LGBTQ rights are human rights too. We also have people who are standing next to us - parents, partners, friends, dreams, ambitions - everything that every cis straight person may have”.

"I would advise all young people out there, to not let others determine anything about their identity, gender expression, appearance and personality. They have to stay true to themselves and to what they feel."

"I was very lucky in that I found a supportive family at work"

I was born and raised in Thessaloniki, I studied law at Aristotle University and I am a transgender straight woman. I started working professionally in modeling while I was studying. While I have never practiced law my studies have helped me broaden my perspectives and they have also provided me with useful knowledge for my life.

People believe that models do not have to use their minds a lot when working. That’s totally wrong, because on a set, a model is asked to complete a different mission each time, depending on the concept, the product he/she holds and has to advertise, the clothes he/she wears, his/her hair and the makeup, all these require skill and perception. I will be honest with you.

When I was a kid, for me modeling was a dream and I was focusing only on the beauty around it. I was unaware of the difficulties that awaited me. I have experienced loneliness, rejection and questioning. I feel very lucky because I have had people by my side who believed and invested in me. I managed to convince them that I am born for this job and they supported me. If I was able to talk to my younger self today, I would tell myself: “Don’t get stressed dear, everything will happen on their own, in their own time, and if they don’t happen then it was never meant to be”.

As a teenager, I remember that in high school I was dying my hair every month. It’s the easiest change you can make to your appearance. You may change your hair colour and your whole being automatically changes. Especially in adolescence, if I had a bad hair day, I could not leave the house! Certainly my long, healthy, beautiful, blond hair - which I do not part with - is a key element for my self-confidence. I love it, I take care of it, every three days I go to the hairdresser for hair treatments, and I totally have an addictive relationship to it. It is a physical characteristic that can change your mood and truly allow you to express your true self.

We have fought so hard for this freedom of expression!

Silvano Caso


For a long time, I did not dare to tell my colleagues that I was gay and that I loved to dress up as a drag queen, styling my hair and wearing different kind of wigs to express myself. When my boyfriend and I decided to get married I finally summoned up the courage to come to work dressed up in drag to tell my story. I was positively surprised by the support from my colleagues. Since then, the atmosphere has become more inclusive at my work and more people has had the courage to come out.

I studied as an advertising graphic designer in the 90s, and in 1995 I decided to join Procter & Gamble as an employee in one of our plants in Italy. I started in Plastic Materials Molding Department then moved to Receptionist and internal Store, Quality control and finally I moved to our Blowing department as a production employee.

In 2018 I got married to my partner Salvatore and we celebrated our wedding involving 2 Drag Queens, understanding that with comedy and irony we could bring my way of being wherever I wanted and deal with LGBTQ+ topics in places where it is unusual. With the support of my husband I found the courage to start and give life to Candy Dash Queen, my alter ego.

Thanks to this, during a day dedicated to equal opportunities in P&G, I had the opportunity to come out to my colleagues and become a role model for my colleagues and friends.

My hair has had an important role in all the steps of my personal and professional life: I shaved it to zero when I really wanted to be taken seriously, I dyed it white when I turned 40, and smothered it under a wig when I decided to dress up as a Drag Queen. Despite all these transformations, I always felt that my hair was strong and healthy and this has been really critical in maintaining my self-confidence.



“My hair has given me a lot of self-confidence and has become a sign of my self-expression - for change, for extravagance, for self-determination!“

"No one should ever feel the need to hide their identity"

I am very self-determined and want to show that there is not just one image of masculinity. As a teenager I had to decide: do I go the other way so as not to be “the alien” anymore, or do I go my own way? A low voice in my head kept whispering to me: ‘Why not? Do it! ‘. It feels better to be loved for who you are than to be liked by many for not being offensive.

My hair has given me a lot of self-confidence and has become a sign of my self-expression - for change, for extravagance, for self-determination!

To realize that you are somehow different and to act out who you are unfortunately still requires a certain amount of courage today. I have been doing this for many years and shared my experience with my community online. I have fought to be accepted for who I am. Nowadays I know exactly who I am and how to show it to the world. After a few experiments, I have also found my signature look with my hair. And this signature look empowers me everyday to be the best version of myself.

I started my career as an entertainer and became a content creator on social media. I describe myself on my Instagram biography as “Pop Culture Weirdo” - behind this pseudonym hides the complete package of my talents: singer, dancer, content creator, model and influencer. I have managed to turn my passion and talents into my profession and am now working in a professional environment in which I am accepted and in which my thoughts and modern aesthetics are celebrated.

Vivek Shraya


“Being seen and respected as a transgender teacher has been incredibly healing”

"My hair plays a huge role in me telling an ever-evolving story about who I am and who I want to be."

When I started teaching, I knew that I wanted to present myself as authentically as possible. I was nervous because a classroom was a site of trauma to me – having experienced misogyny and homophobia there as a teenager - I was nervous about what this meant for me as a transgender feminine woman of colour. I spoke to my teacher colleagues about how they express their sexuality in the classroom and then decided to just rip the band-aid off.

On the first day, I did a quick intro on myself for students, outlined my pronouns and how I got into academia. I mentioned how important it is for my classroom to reflect a diverse curriculum.

This essentially flags to students what they’re getting from me, and what kind of experience they’ll have in my classroom. I didn’t know what to expect – I thought students would drop out. The next day, the classroom was packed. I made a joke about thinking that people would have dropped out and none of the students laughed. Everyone was just happy to be there. This teaching experience has been incredibly healing for me.

Your workplace is your second home – when you’re in a space where you’re just trying to do your job and your surroundings aren’t supportive of who you are or make it difficult to express yourself, it makes it difficult for you to work. We all need to work to pay the bills and if you can’t do that because you’re worried about being in an environment where you’re disrespected, then it’s uncomfortable. This is unfortunately a very common experience for trans and nonbinary people. I can’t hide my hair even if I wanted to.

I’m so passionate about having long hair that I flaunt it at every chance I get. As a queer person in the workplace, I was always very visible – I’m so passionate about style and beauty and how I present myself. I find that some people see this as an invitation to comment on your appearance. Being stylish and invested in your own appearance doesn’t mean you’re open to hearing that kind of feedback.

Yarik Kumechko


“To be open and to come out in the workplace felt incredibly liberating, I felt freedom for the first time”

"It’s through hair that I turned from closeted gay into the person that I am today"

"It’s just not possible to blossom in work if you are not your true self"

I love my hair and it is a big part of my identity. When I was a student in my home country Ukraine, I was in a US-sponsored master’s program and I got a scholarship of $100 a month. This was a lot in Ukraine and comparable to an entry level salary at that time.

Out of the $100, I spent $70 on my hair cut in the best hair salon in country. Getting my hair the way I wanted was a big part of transforming from “closeted gay” into the person that I am today. I think everyone should be able to do whatever they want with their hair and wear it the way they want, without society labelling hair as ‘this is so gay’, or ‘this is so masculine’, ‘this is so femme’ etc.

I have worked both in homophobic environments and in more friendly environments so I have kind of seen it all: from having to hide my identity to being actually appreciated for who I am and for the unique perspective that I bring to the business. Through this I have realized that it is just not possible to blossom in work if you are not your true self. To be open and to come out in the workplace felt incredibly liberating, I felt freedom for the first time.