The beautiful anger that fuels AIDS activist Larry Kramer
Gay and AIDS activist Larry Kramer had a lot to be angry about. Imagine being told when you were a kid by your father about your conception: “I should have shot my load in the toilet.”
And then as you grow older, imagine embracing the gay life as sexually exciting– and then being told later that you’ve contracted a new, mysterious sexually-transmitted disease. Moreover, you have two years to live– and nobody cares.
That’s the stuff for armchair cases, and others would have probably been placed under psychiatric care.
But because the outspoken activist decided to use his anger against discrimination and the AIDS virus, he created a paradigm shift in treating the strange new disease.
Larry Kramer’s Anger
If you really want to understand Larry Kramer, a few basic facts can be gleamed from the movie The Normal Heart, which was based on Kramer’s play. Moreover, the playwright admits the play was based on his own life and Ned Weeks– the play’s protagonist– was his alter ego.
The film tracks the early years of the AIDS epidemic, when the disease first started killing off gays like a mindless mercenary. It’s also the story of the founding of the Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC)– which Larry Kramer co-founded– that became one of the biggest organization to deal with AIDS patients, both LGBT and straight.
At that time, he was angry at what he considered his shortened life. He was angry at the world for not only shunning AIDS victims and isolating them, he was told that the gays deserved it.
“Larry always leads with anger. There are times when the anger is terrific– it motivates you and makes you think,” the late Martin Delaney, founding director of HIV advocacy/education organization Project Inform, had once said of Kramer.
Larry Kramer, the Writer
But despite his activism, Kramer still considers himself more of a playwright. One of his early works was the novel Faggots, which described the promiscuous days of the gays of the ‘70s.
After creating The Normal Heart, Kramer followed it up with the childhood-inspired play, The Destiny of Me. Told in flashbacks, Kramer’s early protagonist Ned Weeks recalls his family life as a gay child.
This work became a finalist for Pulitzer Prize for Drama. “I don’t consider myself an artist. I consider myself a very opinionated man who uses words as fighting tools,” said Kramer.
In a sense, it is this creativity that is the source of Kramer’s anger, a passion that he channels to not only create stories and plays– but also helps him raise his voice against the injustices of the world.
This is Larry Kramer’s beautiful anger.