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COMMENTARY: True Confessions, an Open Letter by Larry Kramer

COMMENTARY: True Confessions, an Open Letter by Larry Kramer


Regarding the proposed move of the GMHC, playwright and gay rights activists Larry Kramer wrote this open letter, dated June 9, 2010.

* * * * *

Sometimes I feel like an asshole, sending these things out to what seems like half the world, all the people I know or ever knew or don't know at all, whom I think might help, might write stories about what's bugging me, this issue at hand, so awful I think, but no one joins me in thinking this way, or so it always seems. Newspapers don't pick it up, or TV or, well maybe a blog or two, I hear that's the way to go but I am from the days of newsprint and those days are gone, even for assholes who think they're still here, and viable, and useful, and can change things, like I try to do. You see, I get these bugs up my ass, things bug me when they're wrong, things about things I care about, which is mostly always all gay stuff, my people I call us, though no one else of us calls us that, no one thinks we're each other's people, which is too bad, another bummer. I get this notion I can change things if I scream loud enough and email enough people and expose the wrongs, the hateful wrongs. Once in a while I do, not often, and I try and pacify myself by hoping that eventually people say, you're right, Larry was right, we should have listened to Larry. Most of the time I don't get that, I get myself out there on some issue nobody gives a shit about, like once-fine organizations now run by idiots and second-raters, who are causing pain to the people they're supposed to love and take care of, which are, like I said, my people. It's real hard to get idiots and second-raters to change, to leave the once-fine organization so the house can be cleaned up a bit. Yes, it's hard to get them to leave, especially when you call them idiots and second-raters, which is obvious to me and others but not, of course to them. So changing things is even harder.

Such is the case now where we've got this once fine and noble place, once called Gay Men's Health Crisis, now stripped of the nobility of its once proud gay association, GMHC it is nakedly named now, and it has a board of idiots and a once OK CEO who has fallen into exhausted second-ratedness and really has to be told by somebody to please, please, leave the place, go take a rest, let some new air in and hope it will be a good change, a visionary change, like I really know all of those idiot board members once wanted to be visionaries themselves, somewhere along the journeys of our lives, before they missed that boat.

I do try and say things like, you can still be heroes if you do the right thing, but then these idiots are among the forefront of those who think I'm an asshole, albeit one with a very loud voice. Funny thing about the loud voice. I never knew I had it until some reporter once upon a time called me the angriest gay in the world or some such and it stuck and here I am still, at 75, trying very hard to live up to it and help my people who need help, although this lot, this board of idiots that are meant to look after GMHC, would be the last to admit that, that they needed my help, help from Larry Kramer, god forbid.

I get tired of it all though. The routine's always the same, the riffs of tortured outrage don't lend themselves much to differentiation. How can they? A wrong's a wrong's a wrong, old Gertrude might say if she were around to like me, which I hope she might have, because she was one gutsy broad who did the fuck what she wanted to and said it like she wanted to and wrapped her language up until it was her language, take it or leave it and she didn't give a flying fuck if you didn't like it, that would be your loss.

I am particularly tired of this GMHC shit that I've whipped up, fairly satisfactorily so far if I may say so. But I've got a 4000 page book to edit fast, while I still don't have dementia (which I read today can come to the hiv+, or did I read that pancreatic cancer can come to those infected with hepatitis b, also at home inside of me), and GMHC, this currently stunted child from my youth is getting in my way.

You see, I thought I could get in and out of this one in a week or so and it's dragging on so long. Those sick patients' who are fighting not to be cast out and adrift, well their faces haunt me and the emails, pitiful in their own fear, bother me, because they are saying, don't leave me, dad, or guy, or Mr. Kramer. And I've got to leave you, kids, because, well we all have to be adults, face the facts as brutal as this current lot of them may be, enunciate them loud and clear, and present my plan, which is all I can do before I hit the road Jack and hope the idiots don't come back no more, no more. (How do I remain a dreamer?)

Here are the brutal facts. GMHC is in the process of self-destructing. The CEO, Dr. Marjorie Hill simply must be asked to leave, with gratitude for her loyal years of trying, but to leave. Now. The board of directors must look, each of them, into their morning mirrors and ask themselves: am I brave enough to care for these sick and dying and desperate clients who need love and care and most of all food, and are not receiving much of the former and are about to receive even less of the latter. If the answer is Yes, I want to help these people, then get rid of Dr. Hill, and her henchman, one Mr. Fulllerton, and the rest of the dynastic death squad that seem to be around her. (And while you are at it, please audit all the grants and programs because you might find something fishy.)

Then immediately locate a temporary visionary, and I have one, Ms. Urvashi Vaid, one of our great people, currently and miraculously at liberty, and beg her, implore her (because she is not going to want this particular gig) to come and clean this house up, this once wonderful edifice of hope and love, alas not presently either, for a short spell, six months say, while you find a decent home where food can remain on the table and medical services can remain on the ground floor, and where home is where the heart is, or used to be, and should be once again.

I know there are all these dangling participles, like those ballot chads (is that what they were called, those things that got George Bush elected over Gore?), things like signed leases with WNET and Broadway Partners and a Dracula-landlord who wants you out of West 24th St. by December 31st or else he pounces and sucks your blood big time. Well, here is how I want you to handle each of these, both of these. Fuck 'em.

Tell Broadway Cares, thanks but no thanks, matters beyond our control have come up (in film contracts I think there is this thing called a force majeure clause, act of God, they can't screw you because of 'em) and believe me, Broadway Cares is not going to sue GMHC, an organization of dying people with HIV/AIDS. That kind of publicity in their own dire current financial straights they do not need.

The same with your resident Dracula. You need a short lease extension at a humane rate while Urvashi supervises a major search for new digs in Chelsea and Mr. Dracula won't give it to you, so fuck him too. Let him sue to evict you, evict you and all your dying patients right out onto the sidewalks of West 24th Street. I dare him.

No, YOU dare him.

I wish this board of current idiots knew how to fight like this. It's really the only way to fight, you know, in New York at this moment in time, at any moment in time. ACT UP didn't get us all our meds by being nice.

Then Urv and the board, on the way to now being first rate mensches all, put the screws on Tom Duane and Christine Quinn and tell them, no, shame them, into getting off their fat duffs and helping you, as they have not, to locate a decent new home for our people, who, after all, are their people too.

So there. I have solved your problems, my old dear sweet GMHC, first child of my loins. Can you all just do this please, so I can go back to my own creative life of challenging my own particular and just as scary fates? I could go on writing numerous screeds like this, to the world's address book, but they'd all say the same, as above. A good plan is a good plan is a good plan.

And Urv, there is a really wonderful staff up there of people so dedicated and caring it would break your heart, as it breaks mine. Keep them, don't let them leave. They're all that's left of the heart of what once was Gay Men's Health Crisis, before some earlier idiots up there changed its name.
But hey, good times can roll again! Last trains to Clarksville and to San Fernando have not been taken yet!

So can we all, please, CUT TO THE CHASE!

Love and kisses,
Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

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