Larry Kramer, a noted author and playwright who fought for aggressive action to conquer the AIDS epidemic, died Wednesday morning in Manhattan. He was 84.
His husband, David Webster, said the cause was pneumonia.
Kramer first became aware of the disease after friends living next door in New York died.
“No one was saying anything,” he later recounted. “I often make the comparison with a war reporter whose parachute drops behind enemy lines and he realizes he’s faced with the greatest story he can tell. I was not a political person before all this.”
After a meeting of about 80 people in his apartment in 1982, he helped found Gay Men’s Health Crisis and began fundraising, campaigning and writing about the subject.
“You should have seen the faces,” he said of that meeting. “We all had friends who died… If one of us had it, we all had it.”
He later formed Act Up, a radical protest group, and in 1989 learned he was HIV positive himself and suffering from liver damage.
He had a liver transplant in 2001 and was given experimental HIV drugs by Anthony Fauci – the medical researcher now leading the fight against the coronavirus in the US.
Dr. Fauci told the New York Times: “Once you got past the rhetoric, you found that Larry Kramer made a lot of sense, and that he had a heart of gold.”
Kramer wrote the landmark 1985 play The Normal Heart, about the early years of Aids, and 1992’s The Destiny of Me.
News of Kramer’s passing prompted an outpouring of tweets honoring and remembering his life and legacy.
Don’t know a soul who saw or read The Normal Heart and came away unmoved, unchanged. What an extraordinary writer, what a life.
Thank you, Larry Kramer. pic.twitter.com/M3hA0cNrCU
— Lin-Manuel Miranda (@Lin_Manuel) May 27, 2020
Larry Kramer valued every gay life at a time when so many gay men had been rendered incapable of valuing our own lives. He ordered us to love ourselves and each other and to fight for our lives. He was a hero.
— Dan Savage (@fakedansavage) May 27, 2020
Reading The Normal Heart as a kid changed my life and I was completely overwhelmed when I first met its author during its 2011 Broadway run. Devastated to learn of Larry Kramer’s passing and holding all his loved ones in my heart. Rest in power. https://t.co/R22u5rRCIq
— Chelsea Clinton (@ChelseaClinton) May 27, 2020
Rest in power to our fighter Larry Kramer. Your rage helped inspire a movement. We will keep honoring your name and spirit with action. In the spirit of ACT UP, join us and chant this (three times). #ACTUPFightbackENDAIDS #ACTUPFightbackENDAIDS #ACTUPFightbackENDAIDS pic.twitter.com/4fAqeO6STW
— ACT UP NY (@actupny) May 27, 2020
Larry Kramer’s death hits our community hard. He was a fighter who never stood down from what he believed was right, and he contributed so much to the fight against HIV/AIDS. He will be missed by so many.https://t.co/V7fHXDXclB
— GLAAD (@glaad) May 27, 2020
Larry Kramer has died.
He was a noted fierce gay activist whose confrontational advocacy with @actupny helped shock our nation into confronting the AIDS crisis in the '80s and '90s. May he rest in power. pic.twitter.com/19ij73sIlA
— Lambda Legal (@LambdaLegal) May 27, 2020
I never met Larry Kramer but it feels like a close member of my family has died. Larry Kramer. A name that will always be synonymous with speaking out when it’s inconvenient, with righteous anger, with saving my community from extinction.
— billy eichner (@billyeichner) May 27, 2020
Sad to hear of Larry Kramer’s passing. We shared the stage in Lance Black’s play, “8” which highlighted our fight for marriage equality. He was a fierce advocate for gay rights. He and his passionate voice will be missed.
— Rob Reiner (@robreiner) May 27, 2020