Prime Timers: A New Age for Activism
BY Advocate.com Editors
August 27 2013 6:00 AM ET
Elton John, 66, Musician
The iconic performer's 2012 memoir, Love Is the Cure, talked extensively about the friends he's lost to AIDS and how he was transformed by the epidemic in the 1980s. He's gone on to be a reliably enormous fund-raiser for the cause of fighting the disease, using his Elton John AIDS Foundation to generate millions for projects all over the world. His annual Academy Awards Viewing Party is a big part of that. Plus the singer has used his fame to raise millions for marriage equality.
Larry Kramer, 78, Writer and Activist
When Larry Kramer wrote Faggots in 1978, he ignited a firestorm of criticism from both the mainstream press and the New York gay community. Banned from bookstores at the time of its release, the novel, which portrays the vain and promiscuous lifestyles of Fire Island residents, is now considered a seminal work of LGBT literature. And today, decades later, it remains in print. In both his writing and activism, Kramer has never been afraid to cause controversy, assuring his perennial place as one of the most vocal and LGBT prominent advocates.
In addition to Faggots, one of Kramer’s most famous works is The Normal Heart, an essentially autobiographical play about the AIDS crisis in the United States. Currently, it is being adapted into a film directed by Ryan Murphy. Based on Kramer’s experiences as a cofounder of the health service organization Gay Men’s Health Crisis, the play tells the story of Ned Weeks and his dying lover during the early stages of the AIDS epidemic. Like the character of Weeks, Kramer has devoted much of his life to calling out political leaders, health organizations, and the gay community itself for turning a blind eye to the threat caused by HIV. This passion led him to found the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power in 1987, an international advocacy group that continues to criticize institutions and individuals whenever it sees fit.
At present, Kramer perseveres to weave together creativity and activism. Since 1980, Kramer has been writing his magnum opus The American People, a 4,000-page history of gay life in America from prehistory until present day. For Kramer, the book is an opportunity to give a voice to the gay people of the past who were forgotten by records or forced to be silent.
“It’s a history of a lot of things,” Kramer told the Toronto Star. “The most important fact is that gays have been here since day one. To say otherwise is a gross denial and stupidity. We played an enormous part in the history of America.”
The book, called “a work of fiction” by his publisher Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, is scheduled to be released in 2014.