‘No homo’ and why it is offensive

The slang phrase “no homo” received significant attention this weekend after Indiana Pacers center Roy Hibbert used it during a postgame news conference on Saturday following Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals. He was fined $75,000 by the NBA for using the phrase and cursing at the media. I imagine the bulk of the fine was for the “no homo” drop rather than the cursing. Some people do not understand the harsh fine or why Hibbert was fined in the first place. They also do not understand why “no homo” is offensive. I figured I would explain.

The impenetrable authority that is the Urban Dictionary says no homo is a “phrase used after one inadvertently says something that sounds gay.” No homo is “said to show that you aren’t gay after saying something that sounded gay.”

An example would be a football coach evaluating a player and saying that the player has a wide butt — which is generally a positive trait for players — and saying “no homo” afterwards to let everyone know that he is not gay despite praising the player’s behind.

The whole idea that someone would have to clarify that they are not gay stems from the perception that being gay is a negative thing. I realize that there are still factions of society who will argue that being gay is a sin or wrong in some other way, but I think most people feel that being homosexual is inconsequential.

Roy Hibbert probably did not intend to be homophobic when he said the phrase. He was probably just trying to keep up his street cred when he uttered it. (Being able to catch one’s self is like a game). Until now, he probably never thought about the root of the phrase and what it really means to gay people. Now that he has been faced with all of that, he has apologized.

Other NBA players have used the phrase “no homo” or even “pause” (which means the same thing) over the past few years and escaped a fine. Dwight Howard said “pause” on national TV in 2011. So did Chris Paul. LeBron has even been heard saying “no homo” during an interview.

Hibbert being fined shows us how much our society has changed in terms of attitudes towards gay people. People could get away with saying one of these phrases a year ago. I even thought it was funny when I posted a “pause” video on the site in 2007. But it’s 2013 now. And if an NBA player feels comfortable coming out as gay, then we should welcome and support him. And if people still think being homophobic is funny, then they are wrong. Because it’s not.

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  • Aaron Winkler

    It was a joke as some have on the level of “that’s what she said.” It’s used to highlight the double entendre of the previous statement. Hibbert’s giggling not at saying the word “homo.” He’s laughing at the thought of the Heat defense having him all stretched out. It’s clearly crass and some will say it has no business in an NBA press conference, but I think just the opposite. Think about all the times guys are trying to penetrate the other team, get the ball inside, stuff it in the hole, and then go shower together. There’s basically an implied “no homo” 100 times a press conference. Roy Hibbert should have been fined for being redundant. Now personally, I don’t use the term because I just don’t find myself saying that many “homo” (sorry, I’m not sure the correct non-offensive adjective to put here) things. But I am familiar with the term and its use, and to me the user who says it always sounds just a little bit more “homo” after he says it. That’s the thing about this joke. It’s a joke born out of homophobia yes, but it doesn’t perpetuate it. It laughs at it. Think about it. The listener wasn’t even thinking about Hibberts sphincter being stretched…He was!!! And then instead of keeping his mouth shut like “OMG I am so disgusted by the thought of being sodomized. How gross!!” He says, “no homo” and giggles. Like “Oh man, the thought of the Heat taking turns on me is actually amusing”. The phrase “no homo” is not perpetuating hate. Real homophobia would have went like this. Hibbert stretched out comment….. Then a reporter saying, “Roy, now just to be clear are you discussing your position on the court, or are you saying that the Heat were secretly penetrating your rectum?” At which point, Roy would have replied, “‘Y’all m**********rs know good damn and well that I’m not a homo!”. And he would try to fight the reporter in an effort to prove his “masculinity” as if fighting someone would somehow prove his sexuality. That would be homophobia. But he told the joke on himself! He brought it to us. I think that’s the interesting thing about comedy. Homophobia is moving from something we fight over to something we joke about it. And I feel that comedy helps shift things into our society gradually. “No homo” is a jokey phrase that makes an attempt to make it okay for males to show affection for one another where in an otherwise homophobic society it was not okay. Before the “no homo” term, males did not compliment on hair, shoes, clothes etc. Now thanks to the term we can compliment a male on anything even his abs, arms, smile I guess if you were so inclined. The joke exists to help tear down homophobia. That’s the joke part of it. Now I understand that someone can say why the “homo” part of it since it in itself is derogatory? Well what other word? “no gay” doesn’t roll off as well, and I’m sure others can think of something even more offensive, but none if it rolls of the tongue, can be said under the breath as quick, or makes me giggle. We are a society that has been and still is homophobic, and I’m sure attacking and changing the term will have a positive affect some day, but a joke to point out that the possible homoeroticism of a double entendre does not perpetuate homophobia, it helps break it down. It is the opposite of the phrase “that’s gay”. Where something negative happens and we call it gay as a negative. In that case we take the word that’s not offensive “gay”, and apply it to a negative situation, like when your buddy is late to a tee time or something. There should be far more of an outcry about that situation. The “no homo” phrase uses the more offensive word “homo”, but the overall phrase is not negative at all. Don’t get me wrong. I understand that what people/gay people are saying is that by using the phrase the speaker is saying, “I am not gay”, as if it to imply that there is something wrong with being gay, and wanting to clear the air immediately, and that very literal meaning of the phrase does cause some concerns. I can see how someone could quickly misuse use the term, especially if say a gay coworker had his hands full, and I got the door for him, and said, “let me get that for you, ‘no homo'”. Properly used comically, it pokes fun at homophobia and brings an awareness to homophobia more so than it perpetuates it, and that’s what Roy Hibbert did. He did it totally off the cuff on live TV after a huge game 6 win which makes me think, Roy, WTF. But instead of a large fine, I think he should be forced to let Dwayne Wade’s stylist dress him for game 7.

  • JAttard

    I think it’s stupid that saying “no homo” is considered homophobic. If I say “I love that guy, no homo”, to me it’s just a declaration of my sexual orientation. Stating that one isn’t gay shouldn’t be homophobic.

    Hibbert essentially got fined for saying he’s straight.

    If a gay man says “I love that guy, yes homo” is that considered an anti-straight comment?

    It’s just a big deal over nothing.