"No homo" is a slang phrase used at the end of a sentence to assert the statement or action by the speaker had no intentional homosexual implications. The phrase is also "added to a statement in order to rid [oneself] of a possible homosexual double-entendre".
The phrase was originated by Harlem, New York City, natives and made famous by the Harlem rapper Cam'ron as a way to quash any sexual and gender error or overstep within lyrics. Joshua Brown in the Journal of Homosexuality, states "the phrase 'no homo' arose in Hip-Hop lyrics of the 1990s as a discourse interjection to negate supposed sexual and gender transgressions". The phrase "no homo" used in a lyrical context comes as a pre-emptive maneuver to deflect any attacks on the artist's masculinity or heterosexual status. Within this context, "'No homo' is not necessarily addressing homosexuality, but creating a verbal defensive in the musical battlefield that is wrought with signifyn' and bustin'. [Musicians] realize that a lyric, which is 'inadvertently gay,' is fodder for another's verbal attack on their masculinity within hip-hop culture. In an attempt to divert their own de-masculinization, musicians presuppose those attacks at their masculinity".
Use of the phrase
As with many attributes of hip hop culture, the use of "no homo" has become integrated into the mainstream North American vernacular. One reason for this as proposed by Brown is that the integration and reception of the specific phrase no homo into the conversational dialect of North American English was simple and due in part to its [clarification needed]. Due to its association to the display of hypermasculinity, scholar Deborah Cameron argues the use of this phrase by young males demonstrates how "gender has constantly to be reaffirmed and publicly displayed by repeatedly performing particular acts in accordance to cultural norms".
It is often viewed as humorous, particularly when in relation to a double entendre.
The use of "no homo" among women is far less commonplace. Brown states that "women can and do use 'no homo,' although the instances are markedly less in frequency" because it is not unacceptable for a female to commit a gender transgression or display femininity through their modes of speaking. Hip hop artist Nicki Minaj used the phrase in her song "Baddest Bitch", stating in the lyrics: "And if he want some pussy that's a no-no / I only fuck with bad bitches, no homo".
Criticism of the phrase
According to some critics, "no homo" perpetuates the notion that homosexuality and gay people are inferior to heterosexuality and straight people. Others have pointed out that the phrase is used among gay people. There are instances of LGBT people using "no homo," though it is most often done so in a more ambiguous or critical light and does not reduce the homophobic qualities. For instance, it could be used by a gay man "when complimenting a straight man on his appearance...distancing the compliment from a sexual advance, when a gay man feels threatened or seeks to protect himself from misunderstanding" or if "a homosexual man said 'my fiancé (another man) and I are going to get married this summer, no homo'". In these instances, the phrase was used either as a protective measure for one's legitimate misunderstanding or as an ironic commentary on the phrase itself.
Several social commentators have criticized the use of "no homo" in hip hop and in the mainstream. It has been said that the phrase "uphold[s] an unhealthy relationship with homosexuality, a relationship based in fear." Fox News commentator Marc Lamont Hill encouraged the hip hop community to stop using "no homo" in its music.
Slate columnist Jonah Weiner notes several hip hop artists – such as Cam'ron and Lil Wayne – cultivate an extravagant and camp public persona while embracing homophobia, but saying "no homo" can help expand established concepts of masculinity and challenge the status quo.
- In 2002, Cam'ron used the expression in the outro of his single "Welcome to New York City"".
- In 2004, Jadakiss rapped "A real man shouldn't have to say No Homo" in his "It Ain't Hard to Tell Freestyle".
- In 2006, Cam'ron uses the expression repeatedly while urinating on someone in Killa Season
- In 2007, Kanye West used the term in "Barry Bonds".
- In 2008, rapper Lil Wayne used the term in his hit song "Lollipop".
- In 2009, Kanye West used the term in the song "Run This Town".
- In 2010, hip hop artist Nicki Minaj used no homo in her song "Baddest Bitch".
- In 2011, The Lonely Island made a parody of the expression with their song "No Homo" published in their album Turtleneck & Chain. The song begins with standard usage of the term and expands to be said after more and more blatantly homosexual statements such as "I've been thinking about fucking a dude (no homo)"
- In 2013, Roy Hibbert of the Indiana Pacers stirred up controversy after he used the term in a post-game interview following a playoff game against the Miami Heat. Hibbert was fined US$75,000 by the NBA for his comments. Hibbert said, "The momentum could have shifted right there if [James] got an easy dunk." "There was what – was it Game 3 here? I really felt that I let Paul down in terms of having his back when LeBron was scoring in the post or getting to the paint, because he stretched me out so much. No homo." Hibbert later apologized for the remark and another obscenity he used during the press conference in a statement released by the Pacers: "I am apologizing for insensitive remarks made during the postgame press conference after our victory over Miami Saturday night," Hibbert said in the statement released by the Pacers. "They were disrespectful and offensive and not a reflection of my personal views. I used a slang term that is not appropriate in any setting, private or public, and the language I used definitely has no place in a public forum, especially over live television. I apologize to those who I have offended, to our fans and to the Pacers' organization."
- In 2018 Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokić was fined $25,000 for using the phrase in a post-game interview.
- In 2023, basketball player Cam Thomas used the phrase in a post-game interview. He was fined $40,000 by the NBA for using "“derogatory and disparaging language”.
- African-American culture and sexual orientation
- Down-low (sexual slang)
- LGBT representations in hip hop music
- Weiner, Jonah (2009-08-06). "Does This Purple Mink Make Me Look Gay? The rise of no homo and the changing face of hip-hop homophobia". Slate. Retrieved 2009-08-08.
- "How to be a straight man: Reflections on "No homo" and metrosexuality - From The Square". From The Square. 2015-06-25. Retrieved 2016-12-03.
- Brown, Joshua R. (2011). "No Homo". Journal of Homosexuality. 58 (3): 299–314. doi:10.1080/00918369.2011.546721. PMID 21360388. S2CID 34511853 – via Academia.
- Cameron, Deborah (2014). "Performing Gender Identity: Young Mean's Talk and the Construction of Heterosexual Masculinity". In Coupland, Nikolas; Jaworski, Adam (eds.). The Discourse Reader. London: Routledge. pp. 47–64.
- "Why "no homo" is homophobic (in case you somehow missed it)". linguistic pulse. 2013-06-04. Retrieved 2016-12-03.
- Matson, Andrew (2009-07-27). "The continuing saga of KUBE morning host Eddie Francis and American English's current homophobic lexicography". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 2009-08-08.
- "Roundup: Kiss-Ins Spread, 'No Homo' Must Go". The Advocate. 2009-07-21. Retrieved 2009-08-08.
- Jeffries, David. "Review: Turtleneck & Chain". AllMusic.
- Garrison, Drew (2013-06-02). "Roy Hibbert fined $75,000 for post-game remarks". SBNation.com. Retrieved 2013-06-07.
- Golliver, Ben (2013-06-02). "Pacers' Roy Hibbert uses homophobic slang term in post-game press conference | The Point Forward - SI.com". Nba.si.com. Retrieved 2013-06-07.
- "2013 NBA playoffs - Roy Hibbert of Indiana Pacers apologizes for postgame gay slur - ESPN". Espn.go.com. 2013-06-03. Retrieved 2013-06-07.
- "Nuggets star Nikola Jokic fined for saying 'no homo' during interview". 7 November 2018.
- Gonzalez, Isabel (2023-02-10). "Nets' Cam Thomas fined $40K for using 'derogatory and disparaging language' in live TV interview". CBSSports.com. Archived from the original on 2023-03-20.
- That's Gay: No Homo, October 7, 2009, Current TV.