Speaker Series: Finding Mark Lowe Fisher

  • 4700 Grand Avenue | Des Moines, IA 50312
  • Presented By: Capital City Pride & Des Moines Arts Center
  • Dates: April 20, 2023
  • Location: Des Moines Art Center
  • Start/End Time: 6:00 PM to 7:30 PM
  • Price: Free; registration preferred
  • Overview

    A collaborative Speaker Series event with the Des Moines Art Center. Join a conversation with Joy Episalla & James A. Baggett, friends of Mark & comrades of the ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) affinity group The Marys, as they recount the impact of this remarkable Iowan who used his death from AIDS as a political & moral statement meant to jar us into action. This event will be moderated by Dan Jansen, Board Chair for Capital City Pride.

    Mark Lowe Fisher was a gay man & activist from Iowa who turned his death from AIDS in 1992 into the ultimate political act. The architect’s body was carried in an open casket procession, in the pouring rain, from Judson Memorial Church in New York City's West Village, for almost 40 blocks north up 6th Avenue, to West 43rd Street in front of Republican headquarters on the evening before that November's Election in 1992. Mark's political funeral was an active indictment of then President George W. Bush-- highlighting his callous & complete inaction to do anything to help fight HIV/AIDS, which by 1992 had taken the lives of nearly 200,000 American citizens & caused Mark’s premature death.

    Before he died, Mark explained his desire for a political funeral in a document entitled Bury Me Furiously: “I have decided that when I die, I want my fellow AIDS activists to execute my wishes for my political funeral. I suspect––I know––my funeral will shock people when it happens. We Americans are terrified of death. Death takes place behind closed doors and is removed from reality, from the living. I want to show the reality of my death, to display my body in public; I want the public to bear witness. We are not just spiraling statistics; we are people who have lives, who have purpose, who have lovers, friends, and families. And we are dying of a disease maintained by a degree of criminal neglect so enormous that it amounts to genocide. I want my death to be as strong a statement as my life continues to be. I want my own funeral to be fierce and defiant, to make the public statement that my death from AIDS is a form of political assassination. We are taking this action out of love and rage.”