TWENTY years ago this month, Mary Fisher took the stage of the Republican National Convention at the Houston Astrodome and delivered a 13-minute prime-time speech that was seen by many as a sharp rebuke of her party’s negligence in the face of the growing AIDS epidemic. Ms. Fisher, a mother of two young children who had worked in Gerald Ford’s White House, addressed the delegates as someone who was H.I.V. positive herself. “Tonight, I represent an AIDS community whose members have been reluctantly drafted from every segment of American society,” she said. “I am one with a black infant struggling with tubes in a Philadelphia hospital.” She added, “I am one with the lonely gay man sheltering a flickering candle from the cold wind of his family’s rejection.”
Stunned silence may be the best way to describe the crowd at the 1992 Republican National Convention as they watched Mary Fisher, the HIV-positive daughter of a prominent businessman, encourage the party to tackle the AIDS crisis and overcome the stigma associated with the disease. Standing before the convention, the 34-year-old mother of two shattered the stereotypes of AIDS as the "gay man's disease," driving home the severity of the epidemic to middle America. Yet, nearly two decades later, Fisher and other AIDS activists say access to affordable treatment is today's major challenge for the 1.2 million Americans living with HIV. It's this access that may be at stake in tomorrow's Supreme Court decision.
When Mary Fisher spoke at the 1992 Republican National Convention, she became one of the most well-known AIDS activists of our time, credited by the New York Times with having “brought AIDS home to America.” It is a cause that is close to her heart, and ever on her mind.
Activist Mary Fisher spoke at the 1992 Republican National Convention in Houston, Texas about AIDS. Her speech raised eyebrows, opened a space for broader policies to combat the AIDS crisis, and helped turn a loop of red ribbon into an icon of compassion, solidarity and action. Nineteen years later, Mary talks about red and what it means to her.
Feb 01 - Mar 24
Mary Fisher: Words to Silence