Obituary: Larry Kramer, Famed AIDS Activist, Passes Away

Larry Kramer, the famed AIDS activist and influential author and playwright, whose best-known play is “The Normal Heart,” which was about the early days of the AIDS crisis passed away on Wednesday, May 27th, 2020 from pneumonia. He was 84 years old.

Kramer was a screenwriter who wrote the 1969 movie “Women in Love,” which earned him an Academy Award nomination. When the AIDS crisis began to escalate, Kramer became an outspoken activist for AIDS research and treatment. He created the Gay Men’s Health Crisis group where he was known for his aggressive views which received push back from some in the gay community. He wrote about that experience in his 1985 play “The Normal Heart.” The play had a Broadway revival in 2011 and won three Tony Awards. In 1987, he was a co-founder of the activist group ACT UP.  

In a statement issued on NY.gov on Thursday New York Governor Andrew Cuomo called Larry Kramer "a great New Yorker" and "He demanded action, and countless people are alive today because of his work,"

Governor Cuomo's full statement reads: "I am deeply saddened by the passing of Larry Kramer, a great New Yorker who helped galvanize the nation's response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic

At a time when the federal government sat paralyzed in denial of a disease that was ravaging an entire generation of LGBTQ people, Larry Kramer was fearless, uncompromising, relentless and loud -- characteristics that ruffled feathers but that forced a response to a public health crisis.

He was "one of the men who fought the war" - the epitome, in the midst of a different plague, of New York Tough. He demanded action, and countless people are alive today because of his work, and the work of so many others who refused to accept indifference.

On behalf of the family of New York, my thoughts are with Larry's loved ones today, especially his husband David. We will miss him, and we will remember him." 

ACT UP NY, The activist Group Larry Kramer founded in 1987 said on Twitter:

"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"

Kramer's 1978 novel “Faggots” which aimed to depict love, life and sex among the gay men of New York and Fire Island, caused an uproar among readers and critics, with the gay community in particular decrying the novel for what they perceived as a negative depiction of gay life.

Born in Bridgeport, Connecticut on June 25, 1935, to an attorney father and social worker mother. Kramer described his childhood as an unhappy one, particular in his relationship with his father, but his brother, attorney Arthur Kramer, was a very important figure to Kramer despite their disagreements.

In 2013, Kramer spent several months in the hospital recovering from complications from a liver transplant after years of battling HIV. While hospitalized, he married his longtime partner, David Webster, in his hospital bed. He was released from the hospital in 2014, continued to write and he even made an appearance at the 2014 Emmy Awards.



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