The Case for Retiring "No Homo"

Feb. 9, 2009
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Juelz Santana is a peripheral rapper at best, yet he’s coined one of the most ubiquitous expressions of the past several years: “no homo,” a phrase that rappers—and, increasingly, comedians, frat boys, middle schoolers and bloggers (even high-minded ones)—tack on to any statement that could be inadvertently construed as gay in intent.

The always-helpful Urban Dictionary offers a sample usage:
His ass is mine. No homo.
There’s an undeniable wit to the expression: It’s concise and playful, and thus infinitely less incendiary than the pejoratives rappers have used to describe homosexuals in the past. But rappers like Cam’ron have taken the expression to new extremes, peppering practically every paragraph they speak with it.

So is the phrase offensive? I asked Camilo Arenivar, editor of the LGBT rap site, who gave me the blunt answer: of course it is.
Let me ask you this. Do you think someone who was heterosexual would be a little offended if homosexuals went around saying "No Hetero"?

In the grand scheme of things the "No Homo" is not the biggest concern to out LGBT hip hop artists, whose primary concern is the same as every other rapper - getting their music heard, earning respect from their peers, and gaining fans.
So there you have it, guys: Maybe it’s time to cut back on the “no homo.” Whereas the expression may be intended by some as an updated “not that there’s anything wrong with that,” whatever benign charm the phrase once had has eroded with repeated use. The colloquialism now has all the tact of a sneered schoolyard taunt.


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