There is a gay porn star … or I should say there is a model who appears in gay adult films … who goes by the name Jeff Power. Or Jeff Powers, depending on whether he wakes up in the morning feeling like a noun or a verb. In any case, he’s one of those tattoo-covered “gay-for-pay” porn artistes. I recently came across a picture of him on a message board. It’s an action shot of him diving face first into a twink’s nether regions. On the side of his hand is a tattoo that says No Homo.
To be fair, it appears to be an old tattoo. And although he does not seem like the kind of guy who would get this tattoo ironically … it would show quite a commitment to a fairly weak joke.
One of the comments posted for this picture—and I wish I could take credit for it myself: “There is a number 1 in between the two words. It’s just faded. It says No. 1 Homo.”
Do you think this No Homo tattoo offers Jeff Power-slash-Powers some reassurance while he’s hard at work? Is this the porn equivalent of an office worker with inspirational quotes in their cubicle?
Does this gay-for-pay porn star look down at his No Homo tattoo—inked on the side of a hand that’s busy fiddling with some other guy’s bits—and the sight of it triggers a calming effect akin to gazing at a “Hang In There!” kitty cat poster?
I just don’t have the answer to that.
Here’s a question I have been pondering lately: Is the phrase “No Homo” still a thing? Do young straight guys still use “No Homo” un-ironically as a way to counterbalance some accidental compliment or display of affection that might be perceived as gay? I Googled a little. Slate featured an article on the rise of “No Homo” back in 2009. The Guardian did a story in 2014. Wikipedia’s “Notable uses” has nothing more recent than that.
So maybe, I speculated, it has already begun to fade and become an urban dictionary relic of the early aughts. Perhaps the current teen generation has no interest in keeping it going.
I know this makes me sound hopelessly out of touch. But although I am blessed to have maintained my youthful good looks and childlike sense of wonder, the truth is that I am going to turn fifty next year. I’m not going to pretend I have my finger on the pulse of straight teen culture.
I mean, I know who Selena Gomez and Shawn Mendes are, but I don’t care a whole lot about them. But I do feel a little more in tune with gay youth culture. I hear and read phrases that come into vogue like trendy clothing—that does not mean it is appropriate for me to try them on.
When I read social media posts from older gay men who use “gagging” to describe a good thing and “extra” for anything over the top, I am embarrassed for them. Really, people … at some point you have to look in the metaphorical mirror, reassess the verbal crop top and lingual leather pants you are trying to squeeze into, put down the fidget spinner and reexamine what it is you are trying to accomplish with this charade.
So have I been shuffling around like a geezer saying “No Homo” ?! I have no idea if kids today still use the phrase. These young whippersnappers—with their selfie sticks and dungarees. This Generation XY … what do they call themselves now? We are running out of letters! When do we go back to the beginning with Generation A? Or will that be post-apocalypse?
I thumbed on over to Facebook and did a #NoHomo search.
Of course Facebook metrics float my mostly gay friends to the top, which resulted in all sorts of sassy quips using the phrase. One comedian posted: “Remember, it’s not gay if it’s a bro-job. #NoHomo.” A burlesque performer announced: “Stonewall this Saturday is gonna be so masculine #NoHomo #Some Homo #Who We Foolin #Totes Homo.” And a lesbian friend posted, on April Fool’s Day: “I want my own Norm Lewis. Like we would hang out and sing and drink wine together. #NoHomo.”
This I can live with. Whether a phrase died five years ago or is forgotten ten years from now, the gays are always going to snatch it back and subvert it, like many potentially offensive names or phrases that have come before. Do with it what you will, we will eventually turn it upside down, ok?
But, really, are the younger kids still using it? In search of an answer to this burning question, I went right into the belly of the beast: I did a Twitter search.
I hate Twitter. For the longest time I felt like I didn’t “get” Twitter. My tweets seemed to disappear into thin air, unnoticed and un-liked by my tens of followers. When they announced last month that everyone should change their Twitter password because of hackers, I purposely did not change mine. If a hacker wants to take control of my account, get me some interactive followers and actually give the account some relevance, I would be most grateful.
I find Twitter boring, confusing and more toxic than Facebook or Instagram. So that is right where I went to search for #NoHomo.
Bingo! I was not disappointed. There is apparently a spambot that posts a #NoHomo tweet once an hour—every hour, every day. Over 27,000 tweets. And a whopping 31 followers.
The same tweets repeat daily: Good Morning Jesus #NoHomo. I luv cheese cubes #NoHomo. Stop being racism #NoHomo. World Stop #NoHomo. I would retweet that last one if I knew how.
Can someone explain the point of this? What does this accomplish?
Elsewhere in my search are the typical tweets you would expect—young straight dudes complimenting each other, followed by #NoHomo. This is what I was looking for. It is still in use!
I am terribly sorry if you need a qualifier like “No Homo” to show emotion or express a compliment to your bro. As soon as I found these #NoHomo tweets I realized—I don’t care what you people think!
Just as I do not care about the word tolerance. I have an intolerance for the word tolerance. Enough. I am fifty years old. I am beyond being tolerated or “put up with.” And for the record, my partner and I would make our own fabulous wedding cake before we would ever eat someone else’s judgmental three-tiered hate.
I digress. In between the spambot and the insecure not-gay bros was a tweet from a young woman who posted: “Real question though—why do people feel the need to clarify that they’re #NoHomo after complimenting someone of the same gender?”
It looked like she did get a couple of responses. But I still don’t know how to look at those and they probably said something enlightening like Shut up fat b*tch. It is probably for the best that I skipped it.
Continuing to scroll, I found a tweet with a link announcing that for only $39.95, you could purchase an article titled No Homo: Gendered Dimensions of Homophobic Epithets Online. The synopsis says: “An analysis of 396 instances of the use of the phrase ‘no homo’ on Twitter”—which suggests that the phrase is a gendered epithet that conveys cultural norms about masculinity. 396 is a very specific number. Would it have been overkill to analyze a flat 400?
Some shocking details revealed in the summary:
1. The phrase No Homo is used more often by male tweeters than by female tweeters.
2. The phrase No Homo is used in a negative emotional context to convey disapproval for men’s homosexuality or behavior that is not gender normative.
3. The phrase No Homo is a gendered one, primarily used by men to facilitate a masculinized construction of positive emotional expression.
While I appreciate the authors’ thesis-like academic approach, I decided to save my $40 and skip the rest of their profound findings.
I scrolled on … More of the insecure straight boys … Scrolling … Another tweet asking: “Why do you guys have to qualify a compliment with #No Homo?” … and then I found Travis.
His profile says: “Cool ass dude. Nicest MF you’ll ever meet.” All his tweets are about video games, which might as well be another language for all I know about the subject—another crotchety old man trait that I gladly own. On June 6th Travis posted:
I just French-kissed another man in front of anti-gay rights protestors. Happy Pride Month Everyone! #NoHomo
Now … I am not going to criticize Travis for that. The world needs more Travis’s. And I think we are getting them.
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Photo courtesy of the author.