Washington D.C.: Larry Kramer, the pioneering New York AIDS activist who used pamphlets, novels, Broadway plays and ire to spread his lifesaving message, died Wednesday. He was 84.
According to the New York Post, his husband, David Webster, told the New York Times that Kramer, who had been HIV positive since 1988, had been suffering from pneumonia.
Even though Kramer is thought foremost as an activist, he first stretched his writing muscles penning screenplays, with his legacy honoured by the 2012 documentary ‘How To Survive A Plague.’ His script for the movie ‘Women In Love,’ starring Glenda Jackson, got him an Oscar nomination in 1969.
A critique of New York’s fun-forward gay community, it was his 1978 novel ‘Faggots,’ that established the man as a controversial, highly-opinionated figure and an occasional pariah. Kramer’s righteous anger became his calling card, causing him to be ostracised, and celebrated many years later.
Kramer, who lived in Manhattan for decades, co-founded the Gay Men’s Health Crisis in 1981 to address what was then being called a ‘gay cancer.’ He butted heads with the members, however, who didn’t react well to his brash tactics and left the group in 1983.
A writer at heart, his activism began to take new forms.
Kramer wrote the play ‘The Normal Heart’ in 1985, a fictionalised retelling of his time spent with GMHC, which premiered at the Public Theatre. It has since become a modern classic and won the Tony Award for best revival of a play in 2011. His follow-up 1992 play ‘The Destiny of Me’ was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
He started the protest organization ACT UP, AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power, to end the AIDS pandemic in 1987. The group forcibly advocated for the sick and paved the way for eventual treatment.