Larry Kramer's Case Against "Queer"

Longtime activist and writer Larry Kramer schools the crowd as he accepted an award from Yale's Gay and Lesbian Association.

BY Charles Kaiser

April 29 2009 12:00 AM ET

LARRY KRAMER X390 (GETTY) | ADVOCATE.COM

When he declared at
Yale, "I am not queer! And neither are you," he was
delighted to be greeted with a round of applause. "Ron
Gregg, who teaches the film course at Yale called Queer Cinema,
said he's thinking of getting rid of the word
'queer,'" Kramer said.

The rest of
Kramer's speech at Yale was an attack on the university for
accepting $1 million to set up the Larry Kramer Initiative for
Lesbian and Gay Studies in 2001 and closing it down five years
later after removing its director, Jonathan David Katz.
"All references to LKI were expunged from websites and
answering machines and directories and syllabuses. One day LKI
was just no longer here. When this happened I thought my heart
would break."

Kramer blamed himself
in part for Yale's actions. "This famous big-deal
loudmouth activist apologizes to you and to Jonathan," Kramer
told his audience at Yale. "My lover, David, says I did not
sit on the nest enough. I did not become enough of the Larry
Kramer they were afraid of." He also noted that
The Advocate College Guide for LGBT Students

lists Yale as near "the bottom of the heap in terms of
institutional support and administrative services for its gay
students and gay studies."

As for the continuing
failure of mainstream historians to pay attention to the
evidence that many famous Americans may have been gay, Kramer
said, "That's the trouble with academia: They
don't use their common sense. And it's time for us to fight
back. And I don't see it happening anywhere."

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