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- To the delight of millions of little children, the Santa in New York's great parade will be half of a same-sex couple. And guess who the other half will be? Me! Harvey Fierstein, nice Jewish boy from Bensonhurst, dressed in holiday finery portraying the one and only Mrs. Claus.
- Quoted in Mark J. Terrill, "'Hairspray' drag queen to play Mrs. Claus at Macy's parade," Associated Press (2003-11-27)
- Arnold: I think my biggest problem is being young and beautiful. It's my biggest problem because I've never been young and beautiful. Oh, I've been beautiful, and God knows I've been young, but never the twain have met.
- Bertha: You have a high voice for a lesbian!
- Bertha: Did your mother have any children that lived?
- Bertha: Just wait until you see my act: Bertha Venation and her Dance of the Virgin.
- Murray: Which she does completely from memory.
- Bertha: Bitch!
- Arnold: I know you'll find this hard to comprehend, but I want more out of life than meeting a pretty face and sitting down on it.
- Bertha: Personally, I never enjoy sex with someone I know.
- Arnold: Our Lady of High Standards!
- Alan: Why are all the mirrors covered?
- Arnold: So we don't see the pain in our faces.
- Alan: Why is everyone sitting on boxes?
- Arnold: To make sure there's pain in our faces.
- Ma: (sotto voce) You told me he was Jewish!
- Arnold: Out-of-town Jewish.
- Ma: Friend-friend, or euphemism-friend?
- David: He used to be a euphemism, now he's just a friend.
- Ma: What lose did you have? You fooled around with some boy. Where do you compare that with a marriage of forty years? Come on. I'm not one of your pals
- Arnold: I lost someone I loved.
- Ma: So you felt bad. Maybe you cried. Forty years I lived with this man. He got sick, I took him to the hospital. I gave them a man. They gave me a place to visit on holy days. How could you know how I felt? It took two months before I slept in our bed. It took a year before I could say "I" instead of "we." How dare you?!
- Arnold: You're right. How dare I? I couldn't know how it feels to put someone's things in plastic bags and watch garbage men take them away. Or how it feels when you forget and set his place at the table. The food that rots because you forgot how to shop for one. You had it easy! You had your friends and relatives! I had me. My friends said "At least you had a lover." You lost your husband in a clean hospital. I lost mine on the street! They killed him in the street! Twenty years old, laying dead, killed by kids with baseball bats! That's right, Ma, killed by children! Children taught by people like you that queers don't matter! Queers don't love! And those that do deserve what they get!!
- Ed: Whoops.
- Arnold: Whoops? Ed, did you say "whoops"? No, Ed. "Whoops" is when you fall down an elevator shaft. "Whoops" is when you skinny-dip in a school of piranha. "Whoops" is when you accidentally douche with Drano! No, Ed. This was no "whoops!" This was an AAAAAAAAAAAAAUGGGHHH!!
- Ma: Arnold, think about the boy. The way you live is bound to affect him!
- Arnold: Ma, David is gay!
- Ma: He hasn't even been here a year!
- Arnold: He came that way!
- Ma: Nobody comes that way!
- Arnold: What an opening!
- Arnold: You want to be a part of my life, I'm not editing out the parts you don't like.
- Arnold: I have taught myself to sew, cook, fix plumbing, I can even pat myself on the back when necessary, so I don't have to ask anyone for anything. There's nothing I need from anyone except for love and respect. And anyone who can't give me those two things has no place in my life.
- Arnold: Anyway, it's easier to love someone who's dead. They make so few mistakes.
This Is Not Going to Be Pretty, Live at the Bottom Line (1995)
- Hello, boys. How are you all? I just love boys. [...] Hello. Are you here alone? Who are you with? ...A woman? At my show? ...We'll make believe. It's theatre.
- I’ve been travelling a lot. My boyfriend and I, we just went to Santa Fe. You know, the one named after the gay saint. Has anybody ever been to Santa Fe? …did you know it was a desert? I didn’t know it was a desert. Hated it! People had been telling me for years, if you’re an artist, a non-conformist, come to Santa Fe! I mean, it’s the place you can be yourself! The light, the light, you can paint here! You can live here, the space, the sky! – The fucking dust! I was doing an AIDS benefit there – like what else do I do with my life? – and I said, look, I’m a guest here, you’re paying for the hotel, I don’t mean to insult nobody, but I got a little suggestion for you. If I was yaz, I’d take a hose, hook it up to Colorado, and water this fucking place!
- Do you remember at the presidential convention where they nominated Bush? Did you know what song they played to bring Bush on stage? No. “The Best of Times” from La Cage aux Folles. I said some fag pulled a fast one on them!
- I live in a small fictional town in Connecticut.
- See, I went to an all-gay high school. Art and Design. Now the truth is it wasn’t really all gay, but they bused them in, it was the law. [...] So I went to this high school, I had friends like Pablo. Pablo used to breast-feed a porcelain doll during math. You know. My friend Lauren used to roll cigarettes on her boots.
- You’d probably just lost your virginity, I’d probably just lost count.
- We had great sex, but we argued politics. [...] Now we enjoy politics and argue sex.
- Now they know who we are. We’re counted in their surveys, we’re numbered in their watchfulness, we’re powered in their press. We’re courted, polled, placated. Now they know that we’re teachers and doctors and lawyers and priests and mothers and babies. Now they see us everywhere. Hospitals, theatres, classrooms. Obituaries. Now when they tell lies about us, we answer back. We found our voices. We know who we are. They know who we are. And they know that we care what they think.