A 12-Step Program Guaranteed to Change your Life by Harvey Fierstein Good evening. I am J. Danforth Quayle's worst nightmare -- an American with a used mind. I believe that democracy was conceived to nurture and protect diversity, and that diversity is what makes this country great. I am gay. I am Jewish, which makes me some other people's nightmare, and I am a radical. I'm proud to be all of them. I am also naturally gray. Somebody should talk to Dan Quayle and tell him natural blondes don't have dark gray stripes on the sides -- probably has a heterosexual hairdresser. I am also, as he attacked yesterday, a member of the Screenwriter's Guild. He also attacked Hollywood glamour. Somebody should tell him if he didn't look that way, he would be working for his father. More dangerously to people like him, I can read, I can write, I can paint, I can sculpt, and I can sing; and I don't need a Gallup Poll to tell me how to do any of them. Furthermore, I have actually seen Murphy Brown. I am pro-pursuit of happiness, which means I am pro-choice. I am also pro-family, pro-commitment, pro-marriage, pro-divorce, and pro-money. I am pro-children whether they are gay or, God forbid, straight. And my concern with life does not end after the moment of birth. I am pro-women, gay and straight. I am pro-man, gay and...well, I'm still working on that. Progress, not perfection. And I'm pro-affirmative action for any individual or group that has suffered at the hateful banquet known as the American establishment. I'm an actor and that means I accept almost anything as art. I'm a writer and that means that I think art raises the human spirit. And I'm an activist who thinks that Washington makes Hollywood seem like a temple of truth. I believe that if America has enough money to give every member of Congress a staff of flunkies, then we have enough money to provide health care for all. I believe that in the last twelve years we have proved that the heterosexual community can learn a great deal from their gay children and brothers and cousins -- such as, attack the disease, not the person with the disease. I believe that the government, my government, has no place in my bedroom or my body. I believe it's time to stop pretending that alcohol and cigarettes are not dangerous and time to legalize marijuana. I do not advocate its use. *snip*. I believe in equal pay for equal work, and I condemn the lowering of the minimum wage. Those who want it, believe me, never had to work for it. An American family is now expected to live -- these people want one person in the family to work and the other to stay home -- on $80 a week take-home pay. I believe that people's relationship with their higher power is their own business and does not require a tax credit. Just what God needs -- another building. It has been my experience that people who quote the Bible have never read it, or at least don't understand the concept of context. Just once I'd like to go into a Christian home that was kosher. The Bible is much clearer on that than it is on homosexuality. Speaking of which, I was watching Pat Robertson and he was giving a lecture on art, and he said that all of modern art -- I'm paraphrasing, but accurately -- all of modern art is a Communist plot to waste America's resources of marble and canvas and paint. He showed a slide of a Henry Moore and said (this is a quote), "this American artist could just as easily have made this piece of marble into a statue of George Washington." I would like to see Phyllis Schlafly forced to stay home and take care of the kids, bake cookies, and listen to her own speeches. I think we'd win her over. I think Ron and Nancy Reagan should be forced to live on Social Security -- with all of their children, including the one conceived out of wedlock. And while I'm on that subject, just once I would like to hear one of those pro-family speakers speak out against incest instead of single parents, or child molestation -- more than 95 percent of which is heterosexually acted -- instead of school test scores, or domestic violence instead of divorce rates. Save the family, they say -- to them that means beat the wife into hamburger, but return to traditional values. And while I'm on the subject of traditional values, there is one of them I'd like to bring back, the one where they took bank robbers and strung them up in town squares. George and Barbara, say bye to Neil. My fellow Republicans, I think someone should tell Dan Quayle his first name. After that they should tell him that Murphy Brown is a fictional character. Dan Quayle -- this is the man who went to Latin America saying, and I do quote this time, "If only I'd paid more attention in my Latin classes so I could address you in your native language." But I'm sure that was the media's fault. They listened. Dear class of 1992. I have spent only a couple of hours with you, read a couple of letters from the office here, but I am reminded of the 60s. And my own childhood. To you, really, I'm nothing but a fart in a blizzard. But you are the hope of America. I cannot tell you how touched and honored I was to learn that you wanted me to come and speak to you at this joyous moment. Some of what I've said to you I truly believe. Some was said for effect -- it's called artistic license. Many of you will be exercising it for a living. And some of what I didn't say, I edited because I'm getting such a look from these two people, and Madam President knows where I'm parked. But I do, seriously, have a bit of advice for you, and I hope you will take this in the best way possible. I have Harvey's 12-Step Program that I'd like to share with you. Never lie, and never let anyone cause you to lie. Truth, or the pursuit of it, is all we have. Never do anything you are ashamed of. If you're ashamed that means somewhere inside you think it's wrong; and if you think it's wrong, you shouldn't be doing it. Take full responsibility for yourself. You are the only one who can say what goes into or comes out of your body. Always admit when you're wrong. You'll save thousands in therapy later -- and a few friendships too. Change your mind as often as possible. Just because you thought something yesterday doesn't mean you have to think it today. Don't ever become a prisoner of your own opinion. Beware of anyone who says they know. Trust me, they don't, or they wouldn't have to say they did. Take care of yourself first, then your family, then your friends. And if you have anything left over, share it. Do something, anything, every day to change the world. It doesn't have to be big, it could be giving a dime to a street person, planting a flower, picking up litter. Anything will change the world. When you have nothing better to do, smile. You'll have to trust me on the miracle this step brings. Make a bit of time every day to be alone and think. Five or ten minutes is enough. It will keep you sane. Have all the sex you want -- safe sex. Get lust out of your way. It's the only way I know to make sure you fall in love for the right reasons. And I want you all to find true love. Learn something new every day. Read a newspaper article that you wouldn't normally read. Open a dictionary to a word you never heard, or never understood. That's my program. And this is my speech. A special word to all of the gay and lesbian graduates: As it was in the beginning, it will probably be in your time, too. From Plato to Walt Whitman, from Eleanor Roosevelt to Sappho -- we are the cultural and social parents of ungrateful children. We give them the houses they live in, the clothes they wear, the art and music and food they enjoy. Do not wait for their thanks, but do the work for yourself. Art must be enough in itself. Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one's definition of your life, but define yourself. Bennington Class of 1992 -- go out there and make history!