"The AIDS virus is not a political creature. It does not care whether you are Democrat or Republican. It does not ask whether you are Black or White, male or female, gay or straight, young or old. Tonight I represent an AIDS community whose members have been reluctantly drafted from every segment of American society."
So said Mary Fisher in her historic speech at the 1992 Republican National Convention. My Name Is Mary chronicles the emotional events leading up to and following this momentous evening. In a memoir that exhibits the same grace and unflinching honesty that moved the nation, Mary Fisher shares the story of her life.
Raised in a socially prominent, affluent Michigan family, Mary Fisher seemed to have it all. She socialized with important and often famous friends and eventually married a handsome artist with whom she had two sons. Although the marriage ended in divorce, Mary continued to thrive in her roles as mother and artist. However, in 1991 Mary's world was turned upside down by the news from her ex-husband that he had AIDS. An HIV test revealed that Mary, too, was infected. Terrified, struggling against fear, depression, and anger, Mary ultimately found a new life mission in her positive status—she began to educate others about the need for compassion and activism in the face of this epidemic. Her unspoken motto is powerful—one person can, indeed, make a difference.
Whether describing her difficult childhood, reflecting on raising her two sons, discussing her evolution as an artist, or explaining her coping mechanisms for survival, My Name Is Mary is warm, caring, and inspirational—like Mary Fisher herself.
Fisher (Sleep with the Angels) shifts gears in the middle of this autobiography, which starts as a whiny account bemoaning the divorce of her parents, her birth father's subsequent loss of interest in her, her mother's alcoholism, her own alcoholism and her two failed marriages. But the mood alters abruptly when ex-second husband Brian is diagnosed with AIDS and Fisher learns that she is HIV-positive. The shock of her death sentence transforms her into a stalwart battler for those similarly afflicted: she goes public with her illness and becomes such an activist and prominent speaker that she is invited to address the Republican national convention in 1992, where she shines. As ``the Republican poster girl for AIDS,'' Fisher continues to be a courageous activist, and now views herself as ``a pilgrim on the road to AIDS.'' The last few chapters especially are filled with deeply moving passages. Photos not seen by PW.