From the New York Times by way of Joe My God.
Larry Kramer, screenwriter, playwright, novelist, columnist and founder of both New York’s Gay Mens Health Crisis and ACT-UP passed away this morning at the age of 84.
Kramer received an Academy Award nomination for the screenplay he wrote for the 1969 movie “Women in Love.” But he became more widely known as an activist and a critic of the LGBT community.
His 1978 novel “Faggots” was at one time the best-selling gay-themed novel. It also created his reputation as a gadfly. He skewered New York’s gay (male) community by portraying some of the worst aspects of some of the people who were part of the West-Village-in-the-winter, Fire-Island-Pines-in-the-summer crowd. He was flayed by the gay press for airing dirty laundry in public. I once went to a New Years party at which all of the attendees were gay men and most were also writers, a couple of them today fairly well-known. Kramer showed up with Andrew Holleran, another gay writer who’s novel “Dancer From the Dance” had recently been published and had been greatly praised both inside and out of the gay community. Holleran had been invited; Kramer had not. Holleran was turned away simply because he’d brought Kramer with him.
I was introduced to Kramer once, at the very beginning of 1980, following a colloquium on “The Future of the Gay Novel.” Kramer was in the audience; he wasn’t part of the on-stage discussion. I recall him being quite personable.
Not long after everything changed. In 1982 Kramer helped found Gay Mens Health Crisis, the very first organization devoted to fighting what was at the time still being called “GRID” (Gay-related-immune-deficiency). He achieved more notoriety the following year when he published an article titled 1,112 And Counting in which he expressed outrage over the fact that more was not being done to combat the spread of AIDS (HIV was not in use at the time as the cause of AIDS hadn’t yet been identified).
Probably his finest work was his play “The Normal Heart” which was among the first to tackle AIDS. He went on to found ACT-UP, an organization which in some ways expressed his sense of outrage and thirst for justice.
Part of Kramer’s reputation came from his being so combative and confrontational that both of the organizations he founded eventually booted him out for being disruptive. As irritating as he could be many of the people he worked with—or against—even the ones he antagonized, recognized his commitment and his sense of purpose.
Kramer was a long-term HIV survivor. He had a number of health challenges later in his life.
I’ve always admired Larry Kramer and am greatly saddened by his passing.
Joe Jervis, who is the “Joe” of “Joe My God” has this to say about Larry Kramer’s legacy:
If you or anybody in your life is living with HIV, they are LIVING with it in no small part because of Larry Kramer.
I’ve been HIV positive for over 39 years. In truth I owe my life in part to Larry Kramer.
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