With the recent It Gets Better Project, we were introduced to a whole cast of celebrities supporting gay adolescents. Because that story has been told over and over again, most people know which of their favorite pop stars participated in the campaign - Ke$ha, Nicki Minaj, Jason Derulo, Adam Levine and Adam Lambert, among others. And then there are those celebrities who have embraced LGBT culture such as Lady Gaga or Katy Perry. And this is great.
Unfortunately, however, high school students and college students (and probably people from all age groups) still routinely use gay slurs in everyday language. I hear people living in my residence hall throwing around names and ridiculing men for being too feminine every time I turn around.
I was wondering why so many teens continue to use this damaging language. The answer came to me in the lyrics of a Soulja Boy song, of all places.
Now, it should probably be noted that rap has hardly ever been championed for playing a role in breaking down gender stereotypes. That is mostly because, well, it doesn't.
In Soulja Boy's recent song Pretty Boy Swag
he raps, No homo shawty but my chest is straight flexin'. I'm not entirely sure what this means. From what I can gather, though, Soulja Boy is saying he is not gay even though he considers his chest to be rather attractive.
Ignore the lunacy of such a lyric, and you start to get to the root of the problem. No homo pops up in myriad rap songs. It has become such a permeated part of our culture that men use it to qualify pictures or situations that could be seemingly homoerotic.
Additionally, if you go back through the Billboard Top 100 for the past decade, for every Firework (Katy Perry), there is an American Idiot (Green Day), which uses a gay slur as a synonym for idiotic.
The argument could be made that the use of no homo is a little different than gay slurs. For the sake of argument, let's suppose that all of the rap artists who use no homo in their songs actually support LGBT rights.
Even if we allow this, the message seems to be clear: It may be cool to support LGBT rights, but it's not cool to be part of the culture.
The damage runs deep. I do not use gay slurs, and I do not use gay as a synonym for stupid but I am always conscious of the stigma attached to homosexuality.
I was in a Forever XXI one day, shopping for some new clothes. My brother and I were the only two guys in the store who weren't accompanied by girls. When we were checking out, there was a couple in front of us. My brother and I were laughing at them because they were rather stereotypical.
I was amused, so I kept watching them, not very discreetly. Then the guy started shooting me these looks. It is highly probable that these looks meant nothing, but my hetero-protective mind immediately jumped to the conclusion that he thought I was checking him out. And I wanted to do something to prove my heterosexuality.
All I could think of was to say no homo.
Spencer Smith is a sophomore studying philosohpy and English, and a columnist for The Post. Have you used no homo? Let him know at firstname.lastname@example.org.