Editor’s Note: This is the first of a new, bi-weekly column written by Promethean staff writer Liam Strong on LGBTQ+ issues and concerns. The column will be published every other Tuesday.
I’m not an outward person when it comes to correcting people on their neglectful language regarding LGBTQ+ concerns. As someone who grew up with a family estranged by internalized homophobia and transphobia, the colloquial language associated with in everyday use was something I didn’t think of. As an openly queer person, I now regret every single instance a slur or homophobic thought streamed through me. The language of hate, though, is learned socially. And by equal remark, can also be unlearned.
Growing up, the phrases of “no homo” and “that’s so gay” weren’t lost on me. Now, I cringe at them, primarily because phrases like these genuinely hurt. Originally coined from hip-hop culture of the 1990s, “no homo” meant to refer to when a heterosexual male says something that “sounds” gay, but really don’t mean it to be.
An example, as follows: “Hey man, your hair is looking really nice today. But no homo, though.”
Although the concession most cisgender arguments make is that “no homo” allows men to express emotions they might previously have been uncomfortable emoting, the principle of disenfranchising an entire minority group extenuates the homophobia propagated, dominantly, by white heterosexual males. The implication of saying “no homo” to justify an emotional expression suggests that being gay is the worst possible thing to be, that emotions can only be validated if the person expressing them clarifies that they’re heterosexual.
I’ve had friends whose main mode of showing disfavor was to exclaim, “That’s f*****g gaaaay.” The annotation behind this, then, implores that their distaste inherently returned back to internalized/taught homophobia. To be gay, then, is distasteful, according to their terms. Even though I think cishet people openly saying the term “homosexual” enforces a deeper derogatory term, “no homo” acts to make this aversion to queerness pervasive in a casual, youthful tongue.
The act of incorporating phrases such as “no homo” or “that’s so gay” do not negate the sociocultural stigma contingent with the marginalization of sex and gender. In fact, if people continue to offhandedly punctuate their language with this brand of rhetoric, then it will only further aggravate the separation of equality between people of varying genders and sexualities. It is not up to people of the LGBTQ+ community to “take back” these phrases, but rather that cishet people need to wean themselves from saying them at all.
They just don’t realize how much it harms us.