I've discovered a new reason to love the internet: Bryan Safi's 'That's Gay' segments from a US show called infoMania. This guy is a genius: He's funny, camp-but-owns-it, rather than camp-to-amuse-straight-people, and he identifies and dismantles casual and not-so-casual homophbia in popular culture.
The title 'That's Gay' is spoken in a disparaging tone (as in 'ew, that's so gay') but the title graphics are a cute, cheery rainbow design, immediately forcing the viewer to remember that the negative use of this phrase and the second class citizenship of the queer community are, in some mysterious way, linked. It's a very clever show.
The thing that really caught my eye was a segment on the use in hip-hop music of the phrase 'No Homo' - i.e. "Not that I'm gay or anything!", possibly short for "I'm no homo, but..." Click here to watch. It has typical gangsta rap lyrics that get quite graphic, so watch out if playing it in the office...
As Safi points out, this phrase is highly offensive. The idea is that it allows straight homophobes to act in ways that might be construed as effeminate or gay (male to male affection, appreciation of beauty in anything other than female sex organs, use of sexual slang towards other men) without allying themselves with the queer community they hate so much. I guess this is KIND of a step forward in that it frees them up to be slightly less macho absoloutely all of the time. However, the people specifying that their words or actions 'no homo' usually make multiple references to their heterosexual exploits as well. By sayin 'no homo' they are not giving us shock breaking news that they aren't gay, the are making quite sure we remember that they don't LIKE gay people and don't even want to share your train of thought with a bunch of queers.
When Lil Wayne says 'no homo', Peter Tatchell does not fall onto the floor weeping in shock & disappointment that one of the most promising gay hip hop role models has gone back into the closet. We can extrapolate that he's 'no homo'(or at least that he's not comfortable with any homosexual feelings he might be experiencing...) from the desperately overt heterosexuality portrayed in his songs, videos and lifestyle. Why say it at all?
But now I am worried. If doing something as innocuous as stating affection for friends, admiring a landscape or rhyming 'luck an'' with 'buttfuckin' throws doubt on hip hop artist's sexuality, what about the thousands of ostensibly heterosexual things I say and do? Things like showing affection to a male friend, deciding to wear make-up, even (gasp) enjoying hip hop! I wouldn't want people to get the wrong idea about me, I mean, gross. Imagine people thinking I'm hetero. I'd never live it down. But I've come up with a solution: No hetero. It works just like no homo, but you say it after doing something terminally straight.
"I just bought the most gorgeous pair of heels! No hetero!"
"I think David Tennant's kind of hot... no hetero."
"Fuck you, Nick Griffin! No hetero."
and for the boys,
"Hey who cares if my accessories don't match! And sandals are just more comfortable with socks! No hetero."
"Hey! Golddigga! I love this song! No hetero."
"No hetero, but Megan Fox has an amazing body..."
I think it could take off.