Larry Kramer was a controversial but iconic figure in LGBTQ+ activism who died May 27 at age 84. Well-known for his brash tone during the AIDS epidemic, Kramer was also an author and playwright. His most famous play, The Normal Heart, remains a staple of queer theater and was adapted to a film by the same name by HBO in 2014. Kramer was an accomplished man, co-founding the organizations Gay Men’s Health Crisis and ACT UP, as well as being nominated for an Academy Award and the Pulitzer Prize. The essay many consider his landmark work, 1,112 and Counting, angered some in the gay community for pointing out its failures in addressing the AIDS crisis. Kramer never stopped his vocal involvement in the LGBTQ+ community, giving a characteristically reproving call for action at the 2019 Queer Liberation March.
Whether you’re hearing about him for the first time or revisiting this iconic figure, here are five great articles about the significance of Kramer’s life and activism. You can read these articles using CPL's Online Resources, but I've also noted if an article is available freely on the web.
"You Can't Make Progress Without People Like Larry Kramer" by Mary Harris
Slate Magazine, June 5, 2020 (also available from Slate Magazine)
An exploration of Kramer and ACT UP's protest tactics in the 1980s and how Kramer might view the protests today.
"Dinner With Larry--For years, I viewed Larry Kramer as an obstacle to progress on HIV prevention. Now, facing a new plague, I worry what we'll do without him." by James Krellenstein
Slate Magazine May 29, 2020 (also available from Slate Magazine)
A fellow ACT UP member discusses the tactics of Kramer's rage in making progress, and if those tactics are something still needed during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic.
"The Angry 'Heart' of Larry Kramer" by Tracy Bain
Windy City Times, May 25, 2011 (also available from Windy City Times)
An interview with Kramer exploring his writing, HIV-positive status and history of activism.
"Larry Kramer Used Voice, Pen to Raise Consciousness on AIDS" by Mark Kennedy
Associated Press News, May 27, 2020 (also available from AP News)
An exploration of some of Kramer's plays, as well as his AIDS activism.
"'Larry Kramer Changed My Life.' Ellen Barkin, Joel Gray, Anthony Rapp and Others Recall a 'Hero' and a Friend" by Tim Teeman
The Daily Beast, May 28, 2020 (also available from The Daily Beast)
Actors, activists and friends of Kramer reflect on how his art and activism changed their lives.