TODAY Hairstylist Opens Up to Jenna Bush Hager About Finding ‘Family’ in LGBTQ+ Community

    by Sidney Hunt
    Published: June 6, 2024 (2 weeks ago)

    In a candid and heartfelt conversation on the set of NBC’s “TODAY” show, hairstylist to the stars, Emily Rodriguez, shared her personal journey of finding acceptance and belonging within the LGBTQ+ community. Opening up to co-host Jenna Bush Hager, Rodriguez revealed how her experiences have shaped her sense of identity and the profound impact of finding ‘family’ in unexpected places.

    A Journey of Self-Discovery

    Growing up in a conservative small town, Rodriguez grappled with feelings of isolation and uncertainty about her identity. As she navigated the complexities of adolescence, she found solace and understanding among friends who shared similar experiences.

    “In my hometown, there wasn’t much representation or acceptance of LGBTQ+ individuals,” Rodriguez shared with Bush Hager. “I struggled with my identity for years, feeling like I didn’t belong. It wasn’t until I found my ‘chosen family’ within the LGBTQ+ community that I truly began to embrace who I am.”

    Finding ‘Family’ in Unexpected Places

    Rodriguez’s journey led her to the bustling streets of New York City, where she found a vibrant and diverse community that welcomed her with open arms. As she pursued her passion for hairstyling, Rodriguez discovered a sense of camaraderie and support among her peers, many of whom identified as LGBTQ+.

    “The beauty industry can be incredibly inclusive and affirming,” Rodriguez explained. “I found a sense of belonging among fellow hairstylists and creatives who celebrated diversity and encouraged self-expression. They became my ‘family’ in the truest sense of the word.”

    Embracing Authenticity and Empathy

    Through her experiences, Rodriguez learned the importance of embracing authenticity and empathy in both her personal and professional life. As a hairstylist, she strives to create a safe and welcoming space for clients of all backgrounds and identities, recognizing the power of hair as a form of self-expression and empowerment.

    “Every day, I have the privilege of helping people feel confident and beautiful,” Rodriguez said. “Whether it’s a subtle change or a bold transformation, I believe that hair has the power to uplift and empower individuals. It’s about more than just aesthetics; it’s about fostering a sense of self-love and acceptance.”

    A Message of Hope and Resilience

    As Rodriguez shared her story with Bush Hager and the “TODAY” show audience, her message of hope and resilience resonated deeply with viewers. Many took to social media to express their support and gratitude for her honesty and vulnerability.

    “Thank you, Emily, for sharing your story and spreading love and acceptance,” tweeted one viewer. “You’re an inspiration to us all.”

    “Emily’s journey is a reminder that we all deserve to be seen, heard, and loved for who we are,” wrote another. “Her courage is truly inspiring.”

    A Call for Continued Advocacy

    As Rodriguez continues to make her mark in the beauty industry, she remains committed to advocating for LGBTQ+ rights and visibility. Through her platform and personal experiences, she hopes to inspire others to embrace their authenticity and celebrate the diversity of the human experience.

    “In a world where acceptance is still a work in progress, it’s important to stand up for what you believe in and support those who need it most,” Rodriguez urged. “Together, we can create a more inclusive and compassionate society where everyone feels valued and respected.”


    Emily Rodriguez’s candid conversation with Jenna Bush Hager on the “TODAY” show serves as a powerful reminder of the transformative power of community and the importance of embracing authenticity. Through her journey of self-discovery and acceptance, Rodriguez has found ‘family’ in the LGBTQ+ community and continues to inspire others with her resilience and advocacy. As her story resonates with viewers around the world, it serves as a beacon of hope and affirmation for those who may be navigating similar paths of self-discovery and acceptance.