Private: 5018 – Cassandra Mendoza, “Kazztylez”

My name is Cassandra Franco Mendoza, also known as Kazz. I am of Filipino and Spanish descent, 24 years old, born in Flushing, Queens, a hair stylist and a big dreamer. My goals and ambitions are never ending – "go getta" is what they say! I am also a young mother of a beautiful baby girl who is now five years old. I figured out I was into girls senior year of high school. I met a girl and didn't understand why I would always walk her to class, pick her up and wait around for her. I also had a boyfriend at the time, swore I was "in love" with him and didn't really know how I could feel like that for a GIRL!

When I was a little girl growing up I was the one playing with the boys in the dirt, a tomboy for the most part. Until this day I don't consider myself a lesbian, but I do drift more toward girls. (Such a cliché statement, but I love all people and believe a soul has no gender.) It's simple: if I enjoy your good genuine company and you make me happy, why not? And who is anyone to tell you who you can be happy with? Girl, guy? Can your family really say no to your happiness? I believe in love: it doesn't have to be a fairy tale kind of love, but the love you have for someone you genuinely want to be happy.

My family knows about me, though they think I'm confused or I just don't know. But I'm past the confusion stage in my life: I came out last year on my 24th birthday after holding this other life in for so long. It killed me every day, I was so scared about what my family would think and how they would react. Coming out to them was one of the hardest things I had to do, harder than telling them I was pregnant. And I understand that finding out your baby is a lesbian can be hard to swallow, but I just want to be happy like everyone else. I hate how society tells us "how it should be." Who makes the rules?

I am a fifth generation cosmetologist in my family, which started with my great great grandmother in Batac, Philippines. I've been doing hair for as long as I can remember. Watching my mother raise three kids as a single parent made me want to be the best at what I do. She always taught me, "You will never fail until you stop trying," and everyday that's what I live by. I worked in New York City for three years after beauty school and realized I wanted to freelance and do my own thing. My brother "Rich the Barber" is a celebrity barber who made a name for himself with his shop, Filthy Rich, and I'm very blessed to be a part of it. I am the only female barber at the shop and, in addition to being the only one with a cosmetology background, I do men's hair as well. I've met so many brilliant people along the way and it just keeps getting better! Being blessed with the people around inspires me to be and do what I love most.

My passion, my fun, my way of expression.


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