The Firebrand: Larry Kramer


In April, Larry Kramer harangued Yale alumni—at an event to honor him—about the university’s handling of a $1 million gift in his name for a gay studies department. In September he implored Dallas Gay Pride attendees to stop being so apathetic, exclaiming, “We are not free!” Indeed, Kramer used 2009 to maintain his reputation as the activist most likely to provoke debate—and action. The ballsy 74-year-old is, after all, the man who on the strength of a single fiery speech at the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Community Center in New York City sparked the formation of ACT UP in 1987. And this was after he founded—and then split from—the Gay Men’s Health Crisis a few years earlier. As a playwright he penned the AIDS-themed The Normal Heart and The Destiny of Me, and his writings span the gamut from 1978’s controversial Faggots to 2004’s The Tragedy of Today’s Gays following George Bush’s reelection. His ambitious The American People, on which he has been toiling for the past two decades, is still a work in progress. Those who say the gay rights movement has no singular voice, no cause célèbre, may be correct. But we do have our firebrand—Kramer. And he’s never too shy to goad us into action and, as a result, usher us ever closer to freedom.

Tags: People