Pausing: The Homo-ness of “No Homo”

I remember sometime in college hearing the phrase “No homo” and it was a friend who was at Hampton University at the time, and I just took it as an East Coast term that I was no doubt sure to hear in the near future.  And I was right, the phrase “No homo” has made a lasting impact.  For those who have NO idea what I’m talking about, the phrase “no homo” is attached to an action or statement that could be considered “suspect” or have homoerotic overtones.  The number one entry in UrbanDictionary.com for it is

Phrase used after one inadvertently says something that sounds gay.

Seriously, I have all kinds of issues with this line of logic.

It’s interesting that in a pluralistic society, one where relativism has found its ways in many avenues (and yes, the GOP and Tea Partyers are correct, because  I think society has gotten more liberal over the years–yes, we stopped burning folk at the stake and accusing them as witches, and oh, yeah, we abolished slavery as well. Yippee–the world is getting more liberal!) that we still have yet to progress on issues of sexuality.  I mean abortion is legal and gay marriages are legal in certain states (and if I can park parenthetically again, how is it that when conservatives want to holler about states rights with regards to abortion and immigration and health care, they believe in a Constitutional amendment with regards to gay marriage), to drive down Peachtree and see transvestites and transsexuals–hell, you could see that in Lenox Mall!

I guess my issue is that to say “No homo” or even to do this “pause” thing does nothing more than embrace the stereotypes about the LGBT community and further stigmatize it.  And blacks have an interesting relationship with the LGBT community.  There has always been one in the field of the arts.  We laud people from the Harlem Renaissance such as Langston Hughes (even I am thinking about naming my kid Langston) and Countee Cullen with no qualifications.  If it weren’t for James Baldwin or Bayard Rustin, I’d seriously question would we as a people had survived the 1960s.

Not to mention Little Richard.

And most certainly within the Black Church.  Gay men, in fact open gay men have always worked with music departments from singing, to directing, to being musicians themselves.  I could go on a list of currently living gospel recording artist who everyone knows about, but something about that just seems slanderous for no reason.  But, late great James Cleveland–come on now, everyone knew but let him be who he was to be.

So, to now, ramp up the homophobia seems weird to me.  But when videos such as “Dick Slang” (NSFW) go viral, it’s like what?

Or

Or

…and any other time you see a bunch of teenaged boys shirtless dancing and gyrating.  I had to ask my friend who I grew up with, why are all these young dudes filming themselves shirtless and grinding on couches and what not? and his answer was simple “Cuz dey gay.”  Well, that may be true…seriously, something about that doesn’t sit right even for me, but I think half of this is a combination of us living in a world of readily available technology, specifically YouTube and in a society where lines are blurred.

I went to a high school in Chicago where there was only one openly gay lesbian couple.  We knew who probably were others who were gay, but none of them were out.  And nowadays, even just 8 years after my graduation, it’s normal and in particularly urban and suburban liberal enclaves its embraced to the point of extra-curricular clubs established.  I said this to say that somehow, somewhere there’s a disconnect.  Because in some instances there is a safe space for individuals to come out, but they don’t and society has progressed to a point where homosexuality has become more and more normalized into macrosociety.  From Massachusetts Senator Barney Frank who’s a “left-handed, [gay] Jew” to Houston electing their second female and in turn electing the first openly gay mayor of a major US city.

The disconnect results in illogical homophobia.  It has allowed for two males who are friends to have to put disclaimers on their friendship so as to not come off as “homosexual” toward other men and larger society.  I mean honestly, why should have to defend my relationship between me and one of my homeboys?  This disconnect allows for us, as a society, so sit idly by as men exit the penal system without being tested for HIV/AIDS and other STDs and the prison industrial complex turns a blind eye to male-to-male sex taking place and will not even pass out condoms.  This disconnect in the microcosm of the black community has allowed for black women to be hypersensitive to “signs if her boyfriend is on the DL” and still delude themselves when their “man” comes back out of prison and she still sleeps with him.  And it causes black men to be hyperparanoid always trying to figure out if another guy was trying to come on them.  Ultimately, for me it reduces the basic human emotion of love down to a political and sociological football that must be volleyed for the sake of appeasing a few on the sidelines who are so conservative they probably would shower in the urine of Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin if possible!

Anytime we contribute to the homophobia, we’re giving fear a chance to trump hope.  As long as we play into the mindset of “us vs. them” and relegating LGBT issues to being “someone else’s problem” then we’ve begun to lose the battle.

I don’t say “no homo” and don’t plan on starting.  I’m a deliberate enough speaker to believe that my words speak for themselves.  I will not qualify what I just said or what I just did for the sake of appeasing some ethereal societal norm that never has nor probably never will speak for me on major issues as it is.  When we say “no homo” we are restricting our own spirituality as black males to that we can never show emotion or brotherly type of affection.  If anything for me, it’s a step back in humanity, another sign that we are becoming less human and bowing down to the gods of technology.

Frankly, this might not even be a conversation if it wasn’t for technology.  When one’s reputation can be called into question with the left click of a mouse on a send button, or the stroke of an “enter” key, then many are much more guarded about what gets out there and “what other people may think.”  Seriously, I’ve heard of people getting preaching engagements revoked because he and his male friend took a picture together. Granted it was a picture of two guys’ faces bunched together, but still, if it wasn’t for Facebook, no one would have even known that picture existed, or maybe they wouldn’t have taken the picture to put on FB in the first place.

And frankly, I still don’t know what to do with the bird shots from celebrities like Lamar Odom, Will from Day 26, and alleged pictures from Jamie Foxx and Dwight Howard over the last few years.

Seriously folks, 15 years ago this wouldn’t have even come up in a conversation.

Oh well, my simple advice: stop using “no-homo” or “pause” when you’re talking or writing, it does nothing but enforce gay stereotypes and encourage homophobia.  Also, to gay people–not everyone else is gay!  Just because you are doesn’t mean everyone else is.  I will admit, part of the homophobia would cease if certain gay persons didn’t feed into the stereotypes.  Sad to say, but it goes for any other group of people and same for the LGBT community; for every 5 gay persons who don’t try and hit on heterosexuals, there’s always one and it ruins the image of the group as a whole.  But being a church musician, I’m somewhat speaking from experience–some people are just reckless for no reason.

As far as adolescent and post-adolescent young black males getting a group, going shirtless wearing just basketball shorts…

…just put a shirt on.  Please and thanks!

Keep it uppity and keep it truthfully radical, JLL

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3 responses to “Pausing: The Homo-ness of “No Homo”

  1. Hey Uppity,
    I heard your briefly on FTSR recently and thought I’d pay you a visit. I asked my kids (14 and 21) about this “new” trend a few weeks ago. Both said it was nothing new, and was so old as to be laughable. What a surprise, and how quickly times change.

    • @KIT

      I mean perhaps in some circles it’s dying out. I will say in my circle of male friends, they don’t say it. But, def when I’m around some slightly younger kids, it’s definitely a popular phrase.

  2. I have always thought the whole phrase “no homo” was one of the dumbest phrases ever devised by the human mind. It reeks of discrimination and (as you so eloquently stated) reinforces traditional stereotypes of the LGBT community. It also portrays the LGBT community as something so “other” that we have differentiate ourselves from them by saying “no homo.” How would we, African Americans/Blacks/Negroes (whatever the Census is calling us) feel if whenever a White Person ate watermelon and drank “red-flavored” Kool Aid the said “No Nigger.” We need to be conscious of what we are saying and not just use words because they are “en vogue.”

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