Larry Kramer (Photo: film still from HBO’s ‘Larry Kramer In Love & Anger’ via YouTube.)
By Matthew Wexler
Both the LGBTQ and theater communities are mourning the loss of one of its greatest voices, Larry Kramer. The outspoken playwright and activist died on Wednesday morning at the age of 84.
Kramer penned The Normal Heart, an autobiographical play that tackled the early years of the AIDS crisis. The play premiered at The Public Theater in 1985. Presented on Broadway in 2011, the play won three Tony Awards, including Best Revival of a Play, Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role (John-Benjamin Hickey) and Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role (Ellen Barkin). A 2014 television adaption (written by Kramer), won the 2014 Emmy Award for Outstanding Television Movie.
“Larry Kramer’s watershed drama… blasts you like an open, overstoked furnace,” wrote Ben Brantley for the New York Times of the Broadway revival. “The crisis depicted so vividly here is far from ended, as cases of AIDS continue to multiply internationally. And lest you leave this play thinking that you’ve had only a great cathartic night at the theater, fliers from Mr. Kramer are being handed out after the show (by Mr. Kramer himself on occasion), explaining how incomplete the fight against AIDS remains.”
Kramer was one of the founding members of the Gay Men’s Health Crisis, and later, Act Up (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power). He was a relentless voice throughout his lifetime. In a 2015 interview with TIME, Kramer said, “I don’t regret anything I’ve done or said. No matter what you say, some people are going to like it and some people aren’t. So it hasn’t shut me up at all. Inside I’m just as tempestuous.”
In 2015, HBO released the documentary Larry Kramer in Love & Anger, directed and produced by Jean Carlomusto.
Friends, loved ones and colleagues have posted their thoughts on social media.
I’m heartbroken — dear, cantankerous, rebellious #LarryKramer has passed away. Author, playwrite, activist, gay rights fighter and all-around trouble-maker, Larry was a friend, sometimes with difficulty, but always in the end with integrity.https://t.co/40RO7Ccl4D
— Laurie Garrett (@Laurie_Garrett) May 27, 2020
“I’m greatly saddened, but will always remember with gratitude how he was like a Biblical prophet who rose to the challenge in a time when this country needed him.” – Gail Papp on Larry Kramer’s life and legacy pic.twitter.com/L9dTRT4UTL
— The Public Theater (@PublicTheaterNY) May 27, 2020
This is the #larrykramer I will always remember, filled with rage and defiance. He changed the world. We queers have lost a hero today. I will miss you my friend. Rest In Power. pic.twitter.com/VkGGiePNPL
— Lea DeLaria (@realleadelaria) May 27, 2020