Larry Kramer, the outspoken AIDS activist and noted playwright, died on Wednesday morning in Manhattan at 84 years old. His husband David Webster stated that the cause of Kramer’s death was ultimately pneumonia.

Kramer is largely credited to forming the early response to the HIV and AIDS crisis in the United States. The activist first became aware of HIV and AIDS when his friends next door to him in New York City died without reason. He then became a leader in the fight against the virus and disease beginning in the 1980s. He also co-founded the first gay men’s support group, Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC) in 1982 after hosting a meeting of around 80 people in his apartment.

“You should have seen the faces. We all had friends who died… If one of us had it, we all had it,” Kramer said of the meeting.

After being fired from the group, Kramer later formed a group called ACT UP (The AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) which was a radical organization that staged protests and public scenes so that government officials would pay more attention to the AIDS crisis and pour more money into its research. His efforts led to the CDC allowing drugs for life-threatening illnesses to be made available years earlier than had been permitted previously.

In 1971 Kramer earned an Oscar nomination for adapting DH Lawrence’s Women in Love. Kramer also wrote The Normal Heart in 1985 which covered the early years of AIDS and the 1992 play The Destiny of Me.

Kramer also wrote the controversial, best-seller book, Faggots which came out in 1977.

The activist dealt with numerous health problems for much of his adult life. Kramer himself had been infected with HIV and underwent a successful liver transplant to battle his case of liver disease.

A friend of Kramer’s, literary executor Will Schwalbe, stated that his death was not related to the COVID-19 pandemic.


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