Renowned Playwright, AIDS Activist, and Novelist Larry Kramer Has Died at 84

Renowned playwright, AIDS activist, and novelist Larry Kramer died Wednesday morning in New York City.

He was 84 years-old.

Kramer’s indelible contributions to counter the HIV/AIDS epidemic include the founding of both Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC) and the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT-UP) and lay the foundation  of organizations that gave at least three generations of of gay men agency in a an epidemic that nearly destroyed them.

According to the New York Times, “At his death Mr. Kramer was at work on a play centered on the epidemic. ‘It’s about gay people having to live through three plagues,’  he told the Times— H.I.V./AIDS, COVID-19 and the decline of the human body, an inevitability brought home to him last year when he fell and broke a leg in his apartment, then lay on the floor for hours waiting for a home attendant to arrive.”

The Times also said, “His husband, David Webster, said the cause was pneumonia. Mr. Kramer had weathered illness for much of his adult life. Among other things he had been infected with H.I.V., the virus that causes AIDS, contracted liver disease and underwent a successful liver transplant.An author, essayist and playwright — notably hailed for his autobiographical 1985 play, “The Normal Heart” — Mr. Kramer had feet in both the world of letters and the public sphere. In 1981 he was a founder of the Gay Men’s Health Crisis, the first service organization for H.I.V.-positive people, though his fellow directors effectively kicked him out a year later for his aggressive approach. (He returned the compliment by calling them ‘a sad organization of sissies.’)”

Looking back in 2017 on his early days as an activist, Mr. Kramer, frail but still impassioned, explained the thinking behind his approach: “I was trying to make people united and angry. I was known as the angriest man in the world, mainly because I discovered that anger got you further than being nice. And when we started to break through in the media, I was better TV than someone who was nice.”

Read the full NY Times obituary here.