Monday, November 9, 2009

No Homo! No Dumbo!

I have resisted commenting on the term “no homo” because I think it is one of the most idiotic phrases ever, but I ultimately decided to comment after all (the blogging well must be dry this week). Don’t know about “no homo?” The phrase apparently originated in hip hop culture, not exactly known for its gay friendliness, and has been perpetuated in men’s professional sport culture and now more broadly in “man culture” it seems. You can find some pretty funny YouTube videos parodying the phrase.

Anyway, “no homo” is like an all-purpose disclaimer used by guys to exempt themselves from any association with gayness because of a previous statement or action. Confused? Here’s an example: A guy tells another guy, “Hey, man, love your new shirt…no homo.” Another example: A guy says to another guy, “Tom Brady is a cool dude…no homo.” One more: A guy hugs a male friend…then says, “No homo.”

I even read over at Outsports that some athletes are now tweeting a (pause) after statements they think require the “no homo” disclaimer instead of actually writing the words, “no homo. “ I guess this is to avoid being in Larry Johnson’s cleats.

It’s not exactly a big secret that the use of “faggot” and “homo,” as well as a lot of anti-women slurs, are an unfortunate but staple part of men’s locker room discourse. These words tumble easily from the mouths of too many athletes and coaches. Every now and then these words slip out in public places and require the athlete or coach who said it to issue a non-apology (sorry if I offended anyone) and gets a lot of media attention. A few months ago it was the University of Hawaii football coach. The last few weeks it’s been Kansas City Chiefs Larry Johnson. It will be someone else next week. It slips out of the locker room and becomes part of school and playground discourse too as the ultimate putdowns, fighting words, and bullying taunts. Out of the mouths of young, mostly boys, these words can become weapons that provoke fragile peers to suicide or murder. Think this is an exaggeration? Check here and here.

Last week minor league professional ice hockey player, Justin Bourne, wrote an editorial calling for an end to the use of anti-gay slurs in male sports locker rooms. It was a refreshing break from the ranks of silence among most male professional athletes about anything gay, unless it is to say something ignorant and negative (think Tim Hardaway). Bourne’s editorial followed the public advocacy for same-sex marriage by NFL players Brendon Ayanbadejo and Scott Fujita a few weeks ago. These public actions stand out for their unique stance against homophobia among male professional athletes. As far as I know Brendon, Scott and Justin Bourne are all straight and I respect that they did not feel the need to add “no homo” to their statements of support for gay rights and against gay slurs.

Unfortunately, I think that this fear does keep other athletes who privately agree with them silent. The threat of being called or perceived as..homo is still scary for these grown men. What does that say about heterosexual masculinity? Is it really that fragile that it must be protected and defended at all times? Is the “hetero man” pose so affected that one slip up – wearing the wrong color shirt, noticing another man’s attractiveness, hugging a friend – can call it into question and require a disclaimer – “no homo?” How profound is the fear of being cut out of the “man” herd?

I have an idea. Maybe we can propose a response to the use of the “no homo” disclaimer. Whenever you hear some guy say this, respond “no dumbo.” Be sure to have the appropriately disdainful expression on your face to accompany your comment. Try to convey the message, “Seriously, dude, are you THAT insecure?”

Oh, yeah, my apologies to any flying elephants who are offended by my suggestion.


Anonymous said...

That's the conversation that needs to come out of the closet... the heterosexual man's fragile ego and insecurity. How do they always seem to get a free pas just by putting down anything gay or distancing themselves form any perception of gayness.. Please.... Of course I'm not talking about all men.. don't want to offend anybody.

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