Author, Activist, ACT UP Founder Larry Kramer Dead at 84

by | Jun 1, 2020 | QUEER RVA

AIDS activist, author of The Normal Heart, and ACT UP founder Larry Kramer will be remembered as a crucial voice in the early days of the AIDS epidemic.

Larry Kramer, the playwright, AIDS activist, author, public health advocate, and LGBTQ activist who founded GMHC (Gay Men’s Health Crisis) and later ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power), is dead at 84.

The New York Times reports Kramer’s husband, David Webster, said he died of pneumonia.

Kramer was known as an outspoken activist who wielded hyperbole like a sword.

“One of America’s most valuable troublemakers,” Susan Sontag called him.

Even some of the officials Mr. Kramer accused of “murder” and “genocide” recognized that his outbursts were part of a strategy to shock the country into dealing with AIDS as a public-health emergency.

Kramer targeted Dr. Anthony Fauci, who today is seen as one of the few, if not only, federal government officials who will tell the American people some of the truth about the coronavirus pandemic.

The infectious-disease expect Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, longtime director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, was one who got the message — after Mr. Kramer wrote an open letter published in The San Francisco Examiner in 1988 calling him a killer and “an incompetent idiot.”

“Once you got past the rhetoric,” Dr. Fauci said in an interview for this obituary, “you found that Larry Kramer made a lot of sense, and that he had a heart of gold.”

Among his works is The Normal Heart, an autobiographical play first produced Off-Broadway in 1985, and again in 2004. It was revived for Broadway in 2011.

Read the Times’ full obituary here.

Written by David Badash, The New Civil Rights Movement. Top Photo by David Shankbone, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia

New Civil Rights Movement

New Civil Rights Movement



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