Playwright and gay HIV activist Larry Kramer passed away at age 84. According to the New York Times, he died of pneumonia early this morning.
Kramer was a legendary activist who co-founded the Gay Men’s Health Crisis, an organization devoted to helping people living with HIV and AIDS. He was later kicked out of the organization for his confrontational style.
Susan Sontag once called Kramer “one of America’s most valuable troublemakers” for his actions that targeted Wall Street, public health offices, and the Catholic Church.
He grew frustrated with what he saw as gay men’s apathy towards the HIV pandemic as well as the government’s inept response. In 1987 he helped co-found ACT-UP, a direct action organization focused on changing the public health reaction to HIV and public perception of people living with the virus.
In 1988, Kramer called Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci a “killer” and “an incompetent idiot” for his reaction to HIV.
“Once you got past the rhetoric, you found that Larry Kramer made a lot of sense, and that he had a heart of gold,” Fauci said. He said that Kramer played an “essential” role in getting the FDA to make the process for approving new drugs faster.
He was the author of many works, including the 1978 novel Faggots and The Normal Heart, a 1985 play about the early years of the AIDS crisis.
Kramer was working on another play before his death, An Army of Lovers Must Not Die, which was partly about the coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s about gay people having to live through three plagues,” he told the Times in a recent interview. The three plagues were HIV, COVID-19, and aging.
ACT UP NY tweeted that Kramer’s “rage helped inspire a movement.”
Rest in power to our fighter Larry Kramer. Your rage helped inspire a movement. We will keep honoring your name and spirit with action. In the spirit of ACT UP, join us and chant this (three times). #ACTUPFightbackENDAIDS #ACTUPFightbackENDAIDS #ACTUPFightbackENDAIDS pic.twitter.com/4fAqeO6STW
— ACT UP NY (@actupny) May 27, 2020
Others remembered him as a hero.
Larry Kramer valued every gay life at a time when so many gay men had been rendered incapable of valuing our own lives. He ordered us to love ourselves and each other and to fight for our lives. He was a hero.
— Dan Savage (@fakedansavage) May 27, 2020
— Will🐫Menaker (@willmenaker) May 27, 2020
Larry Kramer has died.
He was a noted fierce gay activist whose confrontational advocacy with @actupny helped shock our nation into confronting the AIDS crisis in the '80s and '90s. May he rest in power. pic.twitter.com/19ij73sIlA
— Lambda Legal (@LambdaLegal) May 27, 2020
Larry Kramer’s death hits our community hard. He was a fighter who never stood down from what he believed was right, and he contributed so much to the fight against HIV/AIDS. He will be missed by so many.https://t.co/V7fHXDXclB
— GLAAD (@glaad) May 27, 2020
Rest in power to an icon and true fighter until the very end. We thank you, Larry Kramer. https://t.co/arggtehkYx
— Janet Mock (@janetmock) May 27, 2020