Mark Lowe Fisher (1953 – 1992) was a key figure in the activist group ACT-UP. He died of AIDS and insisted his funeral be political in nature as the AIDS crisis was being ignored by the Bush administration.
He wrote a “manifesto” before his death about the government ignoring the AIDS crisis.
“My friends decided they don’t want to speak at memorial services. We understand that friends and families need to mourn, but we also understand that we’re dying because of a government and a healthcare system that couldn’t care less. 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 own funeral to be fierce and defiant—to make a public statement that my death remains in a form of political assassination. We are taking this action out of love and rage.”
—From “Bury Me Furiously” by Mark Lowe Fisher
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The Rev. Howard R. Moody (1921 – 2012) the longtime minister of the historic Judson Memorial Church, hurled himself and his Greenwich Village congregation into roiling social issues. He began preaching at the age of 5 on a milk crate in TX and continued his ministry until his retirement from Judson Church in Greenwich Village in 1992.
He moved to NYC in 1957 as a senior pastor at Judson Church. He assisted all types of people with their needs. He helped women get safe abortions before they were legal. He worked with prostitutes, giving them advice, council and cookies. He established one of the first drug treatment centers in the Village. When AIDS hit NYC, he was the first minister to offer assistance and comfort. He set up an AIDS support group and led one memorial service after another for its victims. He fought censorship and became a leader of a local Independent political club.
He made his church the home of one of New York’s first Off Off Broadway theaters and an innovative dance company. A gallery he established there showed artists like Claes Oldenberg and Robert Rauschenberg before they were well known. Beatniks, and later hippies, were welcomed. In the 1960s he let Yoko Ono and others stage “happenings.” One event, called “Meat Joy,” featured bikini-clad performers and a dead fish.
Rev. Moody was an essential part of the Greenwich Village culture until his death of complications from cancer in 2012. His work lives on at Judson Church.
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