Larry Kramer dead: Ryan Murphy calls AIDS advocate and ‘The Normal Heart’ author ‘greatest gay activist ever’

Larry Kramer's confrontational approach towards dealing with AIDS as a public health emergency had helped shift the national health policy in the '80s and ’90s


                            Larry Kramer dead: Ryan Murphy calls AIDS advocate and ‘The Normal Heart’ author ‘greatest gay activist ever’
Larry Kramer (Getty Images)

Larry Kramer, the American playwright, celebrated author and AIDS activist who brought about a shift in treating AIDS as a public health emergency died at the age of 84. Kramer's husband David Webster confirmed that the cause of death was pneumonia. 

Kramer, in his life, had gone through various illnesses including contracting HIV and liver disease followed by which he had gotten a successful liver transplant. Kramer's most noted work happened to be his autobiographical play in 1985 -- 'The Normal Heart'. In 1981, he was also the founder of Gay Men’s Health Crisis, the first service organization open for HIV positive people. However, he was kicked out of the organization by fellow directors who did not appreciate his aggressive approach towards bringing about a change in the treatment of AIDS. 

After this, Kramer founded Act Up (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power), which aimed to shake up the government into actively getting involved in drug research for AIDS and bring awareness among people about how gay men and lesbian women were being treated. 

Followers of Kramer have since been sharing messages of condolence on social media. One of them wrote on Twitter, "The impact of #LarryKramer and his life’s work can not be understated. The world is a sadder place without this extraordinary man in it. I just hope this news will galvanize the LGBTQ+ community to make a new stand against the ongoing oppression many still face every day."

Another fan wrote, "The first piece I ever read by #LarryKramer was '1,112 and Counting.' The passion, the terror, and pure 'wake the f**k up this is an emergency and the only person who will help you put on your life jacket is yourself' jumped off the page. It changed me!"

Ryan Murphy wrote on his Instagram account, "I first met Larry Kramer in 2012. The film rights to his groundbreaking play 'The Normal Heart' had become available, and I wanted them. We had a wonderful first meeting, he was kind and excited about my casting ideas -- Mark Ruffalo and Julia Roberts (who would both go on to do the HBO film with us). From there we got into negotiations, and he said he wanted one million dollars for the rights. 'Larry!' I said, 'that's a lot of money for a low budget film!' He paused and said 'it's what I'm worth'. I paid it. And I'm so glad I did."

He further added, "Larry knew the value of his work, his life, all gay people's lives -- and his fundamental stubborn belief in equality for all made him perhaps the single greatest and most important gay activist of all time. His fight against government, discrimination, prejudice and big pharma helped save millions of lives. His fight changed the health care system as we know it. I admired him above all others. He deserved the Medal of Freedom. I loved working with him, his passion. I eventually even came to love our fights. I won a Golden Globe one year, and the first call I got the next morning was from Larry. 'I'm glad you won, but I hated seeing you there,' he sniffed. 'Larry, you should be happy for me!' I said. 'Well, I'm not,' he replied."

It was because of the project that the two of them were working together on. Murphy added that Kramer then said, "Because you should have been at home working on our project." Murphy then added, "He was terrified after 30 years of development hell it wouldn't be made, that his tale of AIDS and rage and beauty would never be seen widely by young people. But we got it made. He cried when he saw the first cut. 'All my friends, all my generation, gone...and it's f**king unfair it didn't need to happen' he said. Up until the end, we were still plotting. I recently bought the stage rights to do 'The Normal Heart' and 'The Destiny of Me' in rep on Broadway. He was so passionate and so vital I never imagined he would pass. I thought he'd outlive us all. His work and his spirit will. In his memory, watch 'The Normal Heart' on HBO today. Or better yet, send an outraged email or tweet to a neglectful politician of your choice. He would have liked that."

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