Larry Kramer: American LGBT Pioneer

Kramer

Larry Kramer, American LGBT pioneer, passed away on Wednesday, May 27, 2020, at the age of 84. He was a playwright, novelist, historian, activist, and screenwriter. He was best known for writing the controversial 1978 novel “Faggots.”

He was also a nationally recognized playwright (1985’s “The Normal Heart,” 1988’s “Just Say No,” and “The Destiny of Me,” which was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 1992.) He was a twice awarded Obie winner.

He was well known for his political activism on gay rights. This included co-founding Gay Men’s Health Crisis (the world’s largest AIDS crisis health Center), and founding the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP). His organizations and relentless activism helped to re-educate the perception of those with AIDS and help to remove the negative stigma in the average person’s mind.

Kramer was an American LGBT Pioneer exploring and coming to terms with his sexuality in the 1950s and 60s when one could be arrested for being gay.

His activism and art bled over in his collection of essays, letters to the editor, and speeches entitled “Reports from the Holocaust: The Making of an AIDS Activist.”

His unique perspectives and insights on being gay, the AIDS crisis, political oppression, wealthy liberal hypocrisy even among fellow gay men, trying to find true love in a world of hedonism, and drugs were ahead of his time. Kramer was a truth-teller. His works were usually panned at the time both by straight and gay press leaving him publicly shunned. However, his works were usually bestsellers because he struck a chord with his truth.

Kramer also was a gay historian. He wrote two volumes, “The American People: A History” (2015, vol. 1 & 2020 vol. 2). For a brief period of time, he convinced his alma-matter Yale to have a Gay & Lesbian Studies program between 1997 and 2006.

Kramer also had some screenwriting success. He was known for writing the 1969 Ken Russell directed film, “Women In Love” and the 2014 TV adaptation of the play “The Normal Heart.”

Even his flops were successes. He penned the 1973 fantasy-adventure musical flop ‘Lost Horizon,’ which is considered to be one of the 50 worst films of all time by film critic Michael Medved, and Golden Raspberry founder John Wilson as one of the 100 Most Enjoyably Bad Movies Ever Made.

Kramer died in the middle of working on a play about another pandemic: COVID-19 called “An Army of Lovers Must Not Die.”

This American LGBT Pioneer will be missed, but his legacy will carry on through his activism, his books, and his plays.

By Alexander Campbell
Edited by Jeanette Vietti

Sources:

The New York Times: Larry Kramer, Author and Outspoken AIDS Activist, Dies at 84
The Washington Post: Larry Kramer, writer who sounded alarm on AIDS, dies at 84
The New Yorker:¬†Larry Kramer, the man who warned America about AIDS, can’t stop fighting hard-and loudly

Featured and Top Image by David Shankbone Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons – Public Domain License

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