Larry Kramer, Pioneering AIDS Activist And Writer, Dies At 84

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05/27/2020

Larry Kramer was one of the first activists against AIDS, back when the disease didn’t even have a name. In the early 1980s, Kramer witnessed hundreds, then thousands of gay men die before the government took action to stop the spread of HIV. He became a high-profile, high-volume, one-man crusade against the disease. Kramer died Wednesday morning of pneumonia in Manhattan, Will Schwalbe, his friend and literary executor, told NPR. He was 84. Kramer was one of the great provocateurs of the late 20th century (and below you’ll see he wasn’t shy about using language that might shock or offend). In the 1990 documentary Positive, he told a group of gay men, “I am going to go out screaming so f****** rudely that you will hear this coarse, crude voice of mine in your nightmares! You are going to die, and you are going to die very, very soon unless you get up off your f****** tushies and fight back!” Kramer wasn’t always what his friends called a “message queen.” In the 1970s, he was an up-and-coming writer with an Oscar-nominated screenplay for his film adaptation of the D.H. Lawrence novel Women in Love. In 1992, he told NPR’s Fresh Air, “I was in the film industry. I was on my way to making a great deal of money; I was not a gay man first by any manner of means until I became involved in fighting AIDS, and because someone close to me died. And suddenly I was no longer the white man from Yale, I was a faggot without a name.”

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