Larry Kramer, AIDS Activist and Groundbreaking Author, Dies of Pneumonia at 84

Larry Kramer Gay Men’s Health Crisis, the pioneering organization to assist those with HIV/AIDS. He was also the co-founder of Aids Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP).
Getty Images

Larry Kramer, an influential AIDS activist and well-regarded author and playwright, has died. He was 84. Kramer died from of pneumonia in New York City, Kramer’s husband, David Webster, announced Wednesday morning, the New York Times reported.

Kramer founded Gay Men’s Health Crisis, the pioneering organization to assist those with HIV/AIDS. He was also the co-founder of Aids Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP), which was created to help raise awareness of AIDS in America and push the government to what was said to be a sluggish response by the Reagan administration.

ACT UP posted about Kramer’s passing on Twitter, writing, “Rest in power to our fighter Larry Kramer. Your rage helped inspire a movement. We will keep honoring your name and spirit with action.”

“All of the folks in ACT UP really made such a major difference in motivating a change,” Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, deputy commissioner for the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene's Division of Disease Control, told InsideEdition.com in an April interview. “Larry Kramer, Peter Staley, Mark Harrington and that entire crew. So that amazing crew that changed the history.”

Kramer, who was born in Connecticut, got his start in Hollywood, where he earned an Oscar nomination for his screenplay for “Women in Love,” which he produced in 1969.

In 1985, he wrote the autobiographical play, “The Normal Heart,” which looked at the rise of the AIDS crisis in New York City between 1981 and 1984. It later became an acclaimed Broadway play in 2011 and then later an Emmy-award winning series starring Mark Ruffalo.

"Reading The Normal Heart as a kid changed my life and I was completely overwhelmed when I first met its author during its 2011 Broadway run," Chelsea Clinton wrote on Twitter. "Devastated to learn of Larry Kramer’s passing and holding all his loved ones in my heart. Rest in power."

He later became a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for “The Normal Heart” sequel, 1992’s “The Destiny of Me.”

In the midst of the AIDS crisis in America while fighting for civil rights, Kramer learned he was HIV positive in 1988.

Michael Musto, a member of ACT UP, eulogized Kramer on Twitter, writing, “He was fierce, he was important, he never backed down. He criticized the homophobes and the community itself. He wouldn't tolerate complacence or ‘thinking with your d***.’ If he made you angry, yeah, well, that's what he did. RIP to a true legend.”

Kramer was not afraid to hold people in power accountable, a fact that garnered him much respect.

After being appointed the director of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci, who has become the face of the battle against the coronavirus outbreak in America, was chastised by Kramer for not doing enough to help the gay community as they were dying of the disease.

“Anthony Fauci, you are a murderer,” Kramer wrote in a letter to him in 1988. “Your refusal to hear the screams of AIDS activists early in the crisis resulted in the deaths of thousands of Queers.”

Fauci later brought Kramer and activists to the table and the duo went from foes to friends.

Fauci was quoted in a 2002 New Yorker profile on Kramer. “There is no question in my mind that Larry helped change medicine in this country. And he helped change it for the better. When all the screaming and the histrionics are forgotten, that will remain.”

RELATED STORIES

New York City to Erect Monument to Trans Icons Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera

Alone With Everybody: The Calm of Dr. Anthony Fauci in the Face of Pandemics

Continuing the Walk to Freedom: Nelson Mandela’s Grandson on His Quest to End AIDS and Inspire Others to Lead