2 November 1992, New York City, NY, USA
Known as the 'Bury Me Furiously' speech. Delivered on the eve of the US presidential election, outside the Bush re-election committee's Manhattan offices, upon the death of AIDS activist Mark Lowe Fisher. Fisher - a key figure in ACT UP - had published a manifesto weeks prior to his death outlining his wishes for a "political funeral", including a public procession: "... 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."
Let everyone here know that this is not a political funeral for Mark Fisher - who wouldn't
let us burn or bury his courage or his love for us anymore than he would let the earth
take his body until it was already in flight. He asked for this ceremony - not so we could
bury him - but so we could celebrate his undying anger.
This isn't a political funeral for Mark. It's a political funeral for the man who killed
him, and so many others, and is slowly killing me: whose name curls my tongue and curdles
George Bush, we believe you'll be defeated tomorrow because we believe there's still
justice left in the universe, and some compassion left in the American people. But whether or
not you are - here and now - standing by Mark's body, we put this curse on you. Mark's spirit
will haunt you until the end of your days. So that, in the moment of your defeat - you'll
remember our defeats, and in the moment of your death - you'll remember our deaths.
As for Mark, when the living can no longer speak, the dead may speak for them. Mark's
voice is here with us, as is the voice of Pericles, who two millennia ago mourned the
Athenian soldiers who didn't have to die and in whose death he was complicit, but who had
the nobility to say that their memorial was the whole earth.
Let the whole earth hear us now: We beg, we pray, we DEMAND that this epidemic END.
Not just so that we may live, but so that Mark's soul may rest in peace at last.
In anger and in grief, this fight is not over 'til all of us are safe.
Act up, fight back, fight AIDS.
I am a person with AIDS.
I think about what's happened to my life since I was diagnosed over two years ago. I think about all the passion and precious time I've spent fighting this government's indifference toward me and all people with AIDS. And I realize that a lot of people out there -- gay, lesbian and straight -- still do not believe that the AIDS crisis is a political crisis.
My friends and I have decided we don't want discreet memorial services. We understand our friends and families need to mourn. But we also understand that we are dying because of a government and a health care system that couldn't care less.
I think of the late David Wojnarowicz, who wrote: "I imagine what it would be like if friends had a demonstration each time a lover or a friend or a stranger died of AIDS. I imagine what it would be like if, each time a lover, friend or stranger died of this disease, their friends, lovers or neighbors would take the dead body and drive with it in a car a hundred miles an hour to Washington D.C. and blast though the gates of the White House and come to a screeching halt before the entrance and dump their lifeless form on the front steps."
These words sharpen my thoughts and plan. 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, fiends 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.
Bury Me Furiously
Mark Lowe Fisher, November 17, 1953 - October 29, 1992