“So Kurt is a pervert.”—Harry in Season Two, The Jet Set.
“I knew queers existed, I just don’t want to work with them.”—Ken in Season Two (same episode).
“You people.”—Don (talking to Sal) in Season Three, Wee Small Hours.
Smitty criticized Ken and Harry for their discomfort and disparaging remarks about Kurt, saying, “What, you’ve never met a homo in advertising before?” He implied that their attitude was ridiculous because they probably have met plenty of gay men in the industry already (including Sal, although Harry and Ken were seemingly oblivious to Sal’s sexual orientation). However, although the term “homo” was used in the 1960s, it’s not used much today. Articles have been written about why “gay people” sounds much better than “homosexuals.”
I recently watched Signal 30 (Season Five) again. It’s a great episode, and one I’ve written about before. It’s one of those episodes where I get something different out of it every time I watch it.
When Lane gets word that Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce has lost the chance at Jaguar, he is furious with his colleagues. (Roger, Don, and Pete took the client, Edwin, to a place where he could meet prostitutes, and Edwin’s wife found out.) Lane rages at the men, wondering why they would have done something like that, and Pete says, “Edwin didn’t ask you to go along because he thinks you’re a homo*.”
That’s the last straw. Lane, already enraged, loses it and calls Pete “an oily pimp” and challenges him to a fist fight.
It’s the “homo” insult that does it. Lane was already angry at Pete and the others—it’s likely that nothing they had said would have pacified him—but Pete’s remark pushes Lane over the edge. Take out his new friend/potential client and cause a scandal? That’s bad enough. Insult his manhood? Now Pete has really done it, as far as Lane is concerned.
Not only do they fight, but Lane tells Pete that he shouldn’t expect to ever get any more help or advice from Lane in the future.
Remember Paul, in Season Three (My Old Kentucky Home), getting mad at his friend who insulted his singing? Paul told Jeffrey: “Take it back.”
I wonder if Pete had a moment of wishing he could “take it back,” given how quickly the whole thing escalated.
*note: I didn’t have the exact quote in front of me, so I am paraphrasing here. Pete definitely said that Edwin thought Lane was “a homo.”