In May, the world lost a titan of activism and protest when Larry Kramer passed away at the age of 84. Described by Susan Sontag as “one of America’s most valuable troublemakers,” Kramer was a playwright and essayist who found the cause of his life in the early 1980s when his community of gay men in New York City began falling sick and dying from a mysterious new illness that would later be called AIDS. He was a founder of the Gay Men’s Health Crisis, the first service organization for HIV positive people—a group he was eventually ousted from because of his pugnacious approach to advocacy. And later, he was a founder of the grassroots group ACT UP. He’s also the writer of The Normal Heart, a searing autobiographical play that debuted Off-Broadway in 1985 and depicted the early years of the AIDS crisis in New York.
In 2013, during the run of New-York Historical’s exhibition AIDS in New York: The First Five Years, Kramer joined Angels in America playwright Tony Kushner for a Public Program to discuss his legacy and the enduring relevance of The Normal Heart. (In a moving coincidence, the program took place on the day the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, a major step on the way to full marriage equality.) Please listen below.
Larry Kramer and The Normal Heart
June 26, 2013
Top image: Tony Kushner and Larry Kramer at New-York Historical in 2013 (Photographer: Howard Heyman)