Playwright and outspoken AIDS activist Larry Kramer dies

larry kramer
Image: Facebook

Larry Kramer died in his Manhatten home yesterday at age 84. His husband David Webster said he died of pneumonia. The best-selling author of Faggots became one of the most controversial and outspoken AIDS activists in the early 80s.

Larry Kramer never hesitated to call it as he saw it. Incensed by the lack of political action in the early days of the AIDS crisis, he took part in protests and targeted influential politicians for their indifference. He accused Presidents Reagan, Bush and Clinton, and the Republican party, of responsibility for a ‘Holocaust of Indifference’.

Although lambasted as a troublemaker by many, others recognised that his willingness to go into battle on behalf of people living with AIDS and ability to attract media attention benefited their cause.

The Gay Men’s Health Crisis he co-founded both raised funds and provided care for men living with AIDS.

Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, is an admirer.

“Once you got past the rhetoric you found that Larry Kramer made a lot of sense and that he had a heart of gold.”

Dr Fauci credited ACT-UP, the combative AIDS protest group co-founded by Larry Kramer with shifting public and government attitudes on AIDS. That, in turn, led to increased medical assistance and other care for people living with AIDS.

Larry Kramer, author

Larry Kramer originally worked as a production executive on films including Lawrence of Arabia. He then moved on to screenwriting.

He received an Oscar nomination for his script for Women in Love, based on the DH Lawrence novel.

In 1978 he released his novel Faggots. The book’s frank portrayal of gay life in New York and Fire Island shocked both straight and gay readers. Kramer’s forthright depiction of recreational drug use and promiscuous sex horrified pearl-clutchers who prefered more sanistised retellings of gay life.

Despite, or perhaps, because of the controversy, the book became a best seller.

Later Larry Kramer wrote The Normal Heart. Based on his own personal experience, the play told the story of a man coping with AIDS.

Before his death, Larry Kramer said he was working on a new play titled An Army of Lovers Must Not Die.  This work focused on the COVID-19 pandemic. The author said it drew parallels between the response to COVID-19 and the public and government reaction to the AIDS crisis.

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