Thursday, June 25, 2009

Today in Gay History

Larry Kramer
(born June 25th 1935)

Largely unlikable, hugely admired

Controversial playwright, novelist, and essayist Larry Kramer has been a pioneer political activist in the gay political response to AIDS in America.

Born into a well-to-do professional family in Bridgeport, Connecticut, in 1935, he completed a B.A. at Yale in 1957 and served in the army for a year after graduating. In 1958, he began a career in the entertainment industry, working first for the William Morris Agency and then for Columbia Pictures. His first professional writing was the screenplay for the 1969 movie adaptation of D. H. Lawrence's Women in Love, which he also produced and for which he received an Academy Award nomination.

In 1978, Kramer published his first novel, Faggots, an important breakthrough novel for gay publishing, Kramer himself will most likely be remembered as an AIDS activist. In 1981, he cofounded Gay Men's Health Crisis in New York, the first community-based AIDS service organization in America. Disenchanted with what he perceived to be the lethal dangers of an uncontrollable AIDS bureaucracy, he founded AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP) in 1988, which became and remains one of the most powerful direct action political groups in America.

Spurred by his own HIV positivity and his work in the AIDS field, Kramer wrote The Normal Heart in 1986, one of the first artistic responses to the AIDS crisis. The play, which established Kramer as a dramatist, received the Dramatists Guild Marton Award, the City Lights Award, the Sarah Siddons Award for the best play of the year, and a nomination for an Olivier Award.

Michael Petrelis wrote a note to Kramer after the November 2008 passage of Prop 8 repealing marriage equality in California:
"What exactly would be lost in our struggle for equal treatment and a bit of respect from voters, if this worthless-for-decades Democratic Party front group [The vaunted Human Rights Campaign] were to close up shop?"

Kramer's acerbic response:

i have been saying things like this and writing things like this, about HRC, (then HRCF) since the beginning of hiv in 1981 when i discovered-- really fast! -- how useless they were in our fights against this plague.

who gives a flying fuck what this still useless organization says at its hastily summoned emergency meetings, all camouflage to make the world think they are doing something.


it is just a big bunch of stupid people running a big machine that sucks money from uneducated naive donors and then throws it away. every time i see the letters HRC i want to puke. they could be so wonderful and they are such a waste.

god help the gay population because HRC won't. if they disappeared tomorrow we would be better off. we might even have won against proposition 8.
s/larry kramer

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