Discussion: Why Do Men Really Say “No Homo?”

by Geneva S. Thomas

The latest colloquialism on the block is “no homo.” A popular phrase used by urban men in America during occasions where this male’s words and/or actions could be up for question and presumed homosexual or homoerotic. The term is sort of a “save face” performance or often a comedic above reproach shield, disassociating this male from the gay community.

The term has been widely debated over the past year on whether or not it’s a homophobic form of gay bashing. Surprisingly Wikipedia has even picked up the term. According to an entry recently modified on Saturday, the term originated in East Harlem, New York in the early 1990s.

“No Homo” is regularly used in hip hop music. A notable example is Lil Wayne’s “Got money out da ass/no homo” on his “Wezzy’s Ambition” record. Or Young Jezzy’s “Looking out for them boyz/no homo” on his “Circulate” track.

Most recently Aaron McGruder’s hit show “The Boondocks” featured the term. On show’s latest episode Riley advises Granddad to use “no homo” when he says something presumed to be “gay.” When Granddad thinks about attending a Tyler Perry open cast call looking for Black men, age 50 or older with “light skin and good hair,” Granddad says, “I’m gonna really let him have it (referring to Perry), show that man my stuff, give that man everything I got.” Riley interrupts his Granddad, “Pause! You said something gay, so you gotta say no homo, or else you a homo!” The topic on the highly watched episode quickly became a Twitter trending topic. While some viewers considered the episode a subliminal oust of Perry’s alleged homosexuality, the usage of the term “no homo” exhibits the increasing public interest in Black sexual intricacies in American pop culture.

But why are Black men really using “no homo?”

Internet personality B.Scott thinks he has the answer. In one of B.Scott’s popular YouTube video posts, he offers viewers a Public Service Announcement stating, “If you go around saying no homo, then nine times out of ten, you’re a homosexual.”

Educator and activist Marc Lamont Hill discourages the hip hop community from using “no homo.” In a 2007 post Dr. Hill states, “In order to punctuate even the most sexually non-suggestive sentences with a homophobic disclaimer (“no homo”), one has to constantly be thinking about homosexuality.”

Black men are often accused of homosexuality or “down-low” tendencies when publicly expressing compassion for each other in the form of hugs or public declarations of gratitude and support. The controversial photo of rappers Lil Wayne and Baby caused stir and even a picture of former label mates The Game and 50 Cent.

Is the effects of Black women’s down-low trauma and paranoia a cause of Black men’s “no homo” disclaimer? Is “no homo” an anti-gay pronouncement? Or do you think the usage of “no homo” means a man is trying to hide something, possibly his closeted sexuality?

You be the judge!

  • Kaikou

    I think it is funny, but agree if you are preoccupied to think about saying it all the time, it probably is a problem whether gay or not.

  • http://twitter.com/jedikj peter parker

    i think no homo means something said that can be taken different ways, should be kept on the straight and narrow way. i used to say ‘no homo’ back in the day, 02,03,04…i personally don’t have a problem with it, nor do i have a problem w/ anyone saying it around me. i don’t say it now, because ‘pause’ is more efficient.

  • rugglebyc

    Why does Michael Scott on “The Office” say “that’s what she said” when someone says something suggesitve? Why do kids say “punch buggie” when they see a VW bug? Let’s ponder the deeper meaning of it all.

  • Channing

    I don’t think it is an indicator of hidden homosexuality, that to me, is reading into it a little too much. it’s just like the ones who say “you know what i’m sayin”, “feel me”, after everything…annoying and unecessary but not an instant cause for alarm.

    Everyone does that, whether we put a “no homo” at the end or not. Everyone has had a time when they’ve said something and thought to themselves/out loud “that sounded sexual” or “that didn’t come out right”…it’s the same concept.

    The hip hop community comes up with terminology for everything, it’s nothing new. Now the fact that the term for what’s basically innuendo is “no homo” does correlate to the anti homosexual idea in hip hop, and probably says somthing about the person who coined the term…I think the mainstream usage has more to do with the ‘hypermasculinity’ that was disscused in another aritcle on this site than anything else.

  • cherish

    If you’re a man who is heterosexual, then you should not be phased by being called homosexual. At any time when someone presumes that you’re gay, you should be the bigger person, shrug it off, and go about your life. Shouldn’t wrap your head around the problem since you’re not gay. You must be if your reaction is “no homo.”

  • Kasandra

    I HATE the term “no homo” it shows the ignorance within our society!

    Side Note:I think some people miss the messages in the Boondocks!

  • Michelle

    I have never heard a man say ‘no homo’ before.
    I had first came across the term “no homo” when I would watch videos on YouTube and it usually was written by girls/females/women. I remember thinking, ‘Damn, a woman cannot give another woman a compliment without making a declaration of heterosexuality beforehand?’

  • http://thehappygoluckybachelor.blogspot.com clnmike

    Last week a Clutch writer implied that a dude who defended another dude’s honor by hitting a woman was gay That is why dudes use the term, perhaps if he said no homo when slapping her around he would have been given a pass on that. It seems when ever a black male displays behavior that doesnt conform to someone’s idea of what it is to be a man he is gay. Say no homo and your gay as B.Scott will claim, kiss a dude your gay (I’ll agree with that one), skinny jeans, sagging pants on and on. People say no homo because there is some jackass waiting to label someone gay for being different. Add on with womens intrest in DL and the overall hang up with gay people by society then yeah I can see why dudes can be sensitive about the topic.

    No Homo.

  • Dot

    Good point!

    But, at the exception of Michael Scott, none of the other terms have a negative connotation attached to it per se….

  • daphne

    This episode was created around a time where this phrase was often used. How often do you hear this phrase now? Is it a slow news day?

  • Bantu

    Im still trying to get over the fact 50 cent is kissing The Game. I know it has nothing to do with the topic but forreal, Fiddy kissed Game. Are you guys messing with me or is this forreal???

    Im not suprised by Baby and Wayne. Something was always iffy with those two, so whatever. But yeah…… that is not photoshop??????

  • Akai*

    Article: “The term has been widely debated over the past year on whether or not it’s a homophobic form of gay bashing.”

    Do I think find the phrase “no homo” homophobic? I do!

    I see McGruder’s point (dig his work) as he often puts things out there to show the ridiculousness of it.

    Homophobia is a vile scourge and it does not help to keep those flames alive and continue to bind AA males into a down low closet. Urban culture can be so ignorant at times since a lot of these idiots go in and out of prison as if it has a revolving door where rape and being “gay for the stay” while locked up is no secret.

    The overwhelming majority of black men that have AIDS or are HIV+ have slept with other men, and 70% of females with AIDS/HIV are black women (the majority infected through sex and primarily sleep with black men).

    At some point this has got to stop and I’d bet a lot of those yelling “no homo” probably did a lil ‘something’ themselves.

  • http://www.clutchmagazine.com Clutch

    Dear Reader Akai,

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  • Akai*

    Will do!

  • lilkunta

    men wh say no homo are jack*sses.
    it needs to stop.

  • thinkpink

    So true. Their are very few people who truly understand the messages in that show.

  • lostsage

    Anybody who says that is immature and talking out their ass….
    Anybody who’s grown and STILL says that probally wants somebody to pull them out of the closet…
    All together why is it bad thing to be gay anyways?? Isnt it in style or no *sarcasm*??

  • http://hiphopcheerleader.blogspot.com mikilikemouse

    there’s too many responses & i don’t feel like reading them all so i don’t if someone already said this but i think the main reason why men say it is because its a trend, its popular. people will do anything that’s popular. second, i think it is evident of heteronormativity, heterosexism & homophobia. people who say this feel they must constantly differentiate themselves from the queer community. they feel they have to prove themselves which no one who is confident in their sexual orientation should have to do. its a childish, disrespectful gesture.

  • http://thebookliberationproject.wordpress.com/ cyndi

    I’ve seen it mostly online where tone of voice can’t be heard and there are different interpretations for everything. I’ve also seen “no brokeback” and “no racist.” It’s childish for sure but do men really grow up?

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