I have heard through the internet grapevine (grape-tubes?) that young people have a new phrase to ward off the terrifying prospect of being mistakenly identified as homosexual. So the next time you’re drunk and telling your frat bro how much you love him, simply follow it up with “no homo” and he’ll know that it’s still just a hetero bromance between you. Worried about buying a guy friend a beer? Still want to give your tackle football buddies a friendly slap on the ass after an excellent turnover? “No homo” is here for you!
Now, to be honest, I hadn’t heard the phrase “no homo” before a couple of days ago. I was browsing Facebook when I saw someone wearing a t-shirt that said “ARMY: NO HOMO” in their profile picture. My interest was piqued instantly. The shirt was decidedly professional looking, and after a short round of searching I discovered that it was once a product offered by the often irreverent and sometimes offensive BustedTees. The “Army: No Homo” shirt is now notably no longer available, but the URL and photographic evidence remain.
So, where exactly did this “no homo” phrase come from? Decidedly more rhythmic than “that’s gay”, “no homo” appears to be rooted in the rap scene, popularized by artists like Cam’Ron, Weezy, and Kanye West. I think it’s important to note that Cam’Ron is a man who has had to “defend” his heterosexuality often over the course of his career. It’s a problem that’s primarily rooted in Cam’Ron’s indulgence in a popular practice in the rap world: wearing clothing so hideous and absurd that only people with millions of dollars and no trepidation about busting a cap in someone’s ass can “afford” to wear it. Only adding fuel to his flamboyance, Cam’Ron’s color of choice for these fur lined, diamond studded garments tends to be pink. And not hot pink or a tasteful salmon, but pastel pink. Powder puff pink.
Now, we at Gender-Panic are not here to judge his fashion choices. If he wants to wear cotton candy colored outfits, so be it. They compliment his skin tone nicely. What we find interesting is the rap community’s reaction. In a diss rap by Charlamange (Tha God) called “Pink Tee”, the rapper calls Cam’Ron out. The refrain of the song is “I look weird in my pink tee, funny in my pink tee, people say that I go both ways in my pink tee”, and begins with a clip of a radio interview in which a DJ asks Cam’Ron, point blank, “are you gay?”. He responds, “no, I’m not, far from it”, to which the DJ fires back “then why do you feel like you have to keep reinforcing that?”. At the end of the rap Charlamange announces that the song has been a “PSA, public street announcement” and continues to say:
No grown man should wear pink, you look stink! Pink is the color for newborn baby girls. Would you let your son wear pink? If you own a pink shirt, take it out in the back yard and burn it. Real men don’t wear pink! And if you like gettin’ some, next time you about to get some, see what color the inside of that somethin’ is–that will show you that pink is for [meow]!
And yes, there is actually a “meow” sound effect in place of the word pussy.
That being said, Charlamagne presents an interesting case for gendering the color pink as female in this song. The inside of a woman’s vagina is also pink, clearly it is as nature intended! And for men to wear pink? Well, that is just plain wrong. And Charlamagne is like the “no homo” police of the rap world. In a video produced by the ironically named “OpenMindz Productions”, Charlamagne cautions those attending the Ozone Awards to not get too messed up at the after parties, lest they accidentally get caught up in a “gay situation”. He then “exposes” several rappers as gay, including Weezy (for kissing another man) and P. Diddy (for licking his lips when thinking of another man). All I really have to say is… Damn, Charlamagne. You need a hobby.
I’d like to close this post by directing you to another send up of the origins and usage of “no homo” from an episode of Current’s infoMania, included in its hilarious “That’s Gay” segment. Keep it decidedly ambiguous out there!