“No Homo”

It’s a phrase often heard. But does adding, “no homo” at the end of sentence really clear up anything? It’s said as a disclaimer, to hopefully keep up someone’s reputation of being heterosexual if they’ve said something that could be viewed as homosexual by society. But what confuses me is how any one phrase apart from, “I’m homosexual”, could be taken to be a homosexual statement. As the Lonely Island song said, even a male complimenting a male friend could be construed as “homosexual” by their peers. And if the “no homo” disclaimer isn’t added at the end, it serves as evidence for that person’s supposed homosexuality.

This is a prime example of learned or interactional habits in society. By viewing stereotyped images of gay men and women, they become ingrained and somewhat solidified in the general public’s mind. When they next see behaviors they’ve only identified as homosexual, they assume, because that’s what is easy on the brain, that they too are homosexual. Thus the need for the new suffix “no homo”.

The Europeans did the same thing when they came upon a different culture in America. Many Native American tribes had practices that breached what the Europeans understood as gender roles. Many men in the tribes did what the white settlers believed to be the work of women and dressed similarly to their ideas of women. They even had sexual relations with other men in their tribe. But the Europeans didn’t bother to see the Native American point of view on gender. Many tribes had more genders than just the original male and female. Even if two people were of the same sex, they could be of different genders. Masculine female bodied and feminine male bodied people are examples of this. It was perfectly acceptable and even spiritually encouraging for members to partake in sexual relations with these other genders, even if they were of the same sex. In fact, having sex with a gender-variant individual had its perks: When it was considered taboo to have sex with a menstruating or pregnant woman, a gender variant could be a good substitute, it was exempt from punishment for extramarital affairs, and it was sometimes considered to bring good luck upon you if you slept with them.

Instead of learning more about the Native American cultures, the first Europeans to come across them assumed that their gender roles were fixed in what they believed to be homosexual. The Native Americans however, did not feel the need to say “no homo” or another equivalent after performing sodomy on someone of the same sex. It was their interactional learning that caused their children to be brought up as adults that understood that this was not a homosexual act. In many cases, being a gender variant was actually revered for its sacredness and spiritual power.

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