Every week a different FADER staff member will pick a clothing item or accessory that he or she has lately been spending a lot of time with—or would like to—and write a little love letter to it. We would’ve done a column on who we’re dating but that seemed a little bit much. This week Alex Frank writes about the “Yes Homo” t-shirt from Brooklyn band Little Victory.
When hip-hop adopted “no homo” a couple years ago, the term hardly entered my radar. For one, I had already made it through the playground, a boy who played with Polly Pockets, and the insults at the jungle gym were way smarter and meaner. So my best defense against No Homo was just to yawn right through Cam’ron’s hits. It’s an immature, amorphous, stupid proclamation of disgust. Even though it’s less violent and confrontational than past antipathies, that change can’t be a sign of progress, more just like a blunter butter knife of an insult.
Looking good is the best revenge, no? And a man with a wardrobe as purple and pink as Cam’ron’s should know the power of an outfit. This shirt’s the perfect response to the slur. It’s the band T-shirt for Brooklyn-based Little Victory, a tough, talented garage band of homosexuals. The fact that it’s so obvious makes it that much better: a funny, easy defense against a sloppy insult.
Actually, the best counterpoint to No Homo was the night I got the shirt. Little Victory were playing their first show at a gay party on the Lower East Side. Each member was wearing the shirt on stage and throwing free ones out to the audience. I stood in the crowd watching them rule as a band, a messy, sexy quartet full of swagger. They didn’t rule in a gay way or in a straight way, particularly, just in an great way. Then I looked around at the crowd of homo and heterosexuals emblazoned in their Yes Homo shirts and thought about how little it mattered, at least to this group, what anyone would have to say about anything. People were too busy having fun and being drunk to care about anything petty.
After Little Victory’s set everyone poured outside on the street, go-go boys included, to smoke cigarettes. About half were wearing “Yes Homo” shirts. Some guy walking by called one of us a faggot (a decidedly meaner phrase than “No Homo”) and, like a discordant choir, we hollered back until the dude was gone. We laughed him out of sight and out of mind. They weren’t angry screams, though. Instead we hit notes of boastful satisfaction as our defense, and, after it was all done, we erupted in more laughter about the experience and sashayed back downstairs. It didn’t hurt our feelings; we felt more bad for him than we did for ourselves. Our Yes Homo shirts were the perfect billboards to display this new cultural confidence—it’s not so much a fight as it is a celebration.