No Homo

The phrases ‘no homo‘ and ‘pause’ are slang terms. They parenthetically assert that the speaker of such does not have any homosexual intent and are usually used after an utterance that may have given that impression. The term originated in East Harlem slang of the early 1990s.

It was used by many to distance themselves from the stereotype of closeted gay and bisexual men. Several social commentators have criticized the use of both ‘no homo’ and ‘pause’ in hip hop and in the mainstream. It has been said that the phrases, ‘uphold an unhealthy relationship with homosexuality, a relationship based in fear.’ Fox News commentator Marc Lamont Hill encouraged the hip-hop community to stop using the terms.

At the same time, ‘Slate’ columnist Jonah Weiner suggested the use of the phrase is somewhat more complex. Weiner notes several hip hop artists – such as Cam’ron and Lil Wayne – cultivate an extravagant and camp public persona while embracing homophobia, thus saying no homo can help expand established concepts of masculinity, and challenge the status quo. Nick Catucci, writing for ‘New York magazine, disagrees with this assessment. In his view, no homo is merely another form of gay bashing, and to a large extent is used simply because it ‘just sounds good,’ and is easily applicable in rhymes. A rapper like Cam’ron, Catucci argues, will use the phrase and dress in pink simply to show that he is man enough to get away with it, without being suspected of being gay.


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