Award winning playwright and activist Larry Kramer died May 27, 2020 as a result of complications from pneumonia in New York City less than a month from his 85th birthday.
Living with HIV much of his adult life, Kramer became an avid activist for action and awareness for HIV and AIDS; especially in the early days of the disease when everyone else was pushing it under the rug.
Kramer left a piece of himself in everything he wrote; using aspects of his own life, whether it be the struggles of a gay man on an Ivy League campus in the fifties or striving for a voice amid the mire of a heterosexual world.
In an age when being “out of the closet” did not exist, Kramer sought to help a community of people who were suddenly dying from a mysterious new disease that had doctors baffled. His efforts resulted in helping to form the New York City Gay Men’s Health Crisis and later ACT UP – AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power.
When he failed to get his message across via the political ring, Kramer turned to the other mighty sword – the pen! His compositions include “The Normal Heart”, “The Destiny of Me”, “Women in Love”, “Lost Horizon”, “Sissies’ Scrapbook” – later “Four Friends”, the novel “Faggots”, “The Furniture of Home”, “Just Say No”, “The American People: Volume 1” and Volume 2, subtitled “The Brutality of Fact”. Kramer was working on a new piece – “Army of Lovers” at the time of his death.
In the end, Kramer achieved some of what set out to – bring a debilitating health crisis to the forefront, incite awareness, and bring desperately needed help to a community. Those efforts also brought forth some accolades for Kramer in the form of an OBIE Award, a Lucille Lortel Award, the Tony Award’s Isabelle Stevenson Award, and the revival of “The Normal Heart” on Broadway earned three Tony Awards.
He was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut on June 25, 1935 and later graduated from Yale University.
He is survived by his husband David Webster.
feature photo credit: By David Shankbone – Larry Kramer 2010, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10409115