WASHINGTON (May 27, 2020) AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) today mourned the passing of Larry Kramer, a tart-tongued firebrand AIDS activist and award-winning playwright whose personal, professional and creative lives tracked and drew heavily on the AIDS pandemic. In 1981, Kramer was one of the first—and most vocal—to raise the alarm in both the gay community and to the public at large about the new disease which eventually became known as acquired immunodeficiency syndrome or AIDS, which first struck the gay community and men who have sex with men.
Kramer was a co-founder of the activist group ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) and author of the Tony Award-winning play “The Normal Heart” and the Pulitzer Prize-nominated play “The Destiny of Me.”
“Larry Kramer was a giant in our movement. He was the grandfather of AIDS activism,” said Michael Weinstein, President of AHF. “All of us learned from him even when we didn’t always agree. He was there at the founding of institutions such as GMHC and Housing Works. And his cultural contributions, particularly Normal Heart, spoke eloquently to not only our minds but our hearts. Larry, you will be sorely missed.”
“I joined ACT Up in 1990 at the peak of deaths and outrage and Larry Kramer was vocally front and center. He had a great influence on me and my activism to this day – he exemplified a sense of urgency that lives within all of AHF’s own advocacy,” said Terri Ford, Chief of Global Policy & Advocacy for AHF. “He spoke up, often unpleasantly shouting what needed to be said regardless of the blowback—or even his own community turning on him. He was not afraid to stand alone to fight for what was right. Most AIDS leaders over the years disagreed with him at some point, including myself, but that never diminished the respect and honor that he is owed. What a warrior. This is a major loss for AIDS activism, but his fighting spirit lives on within many. The war on AIDS is not yet won and the fight for better global public health is just starting. We will fight on in Larry Kramer’s memory.”
During the 2019 LGBTQ+ parade season, AHF honored Kramer by celebrating him as one of “Our Champions” – eight influential advocates in both the LGBTQ+ and AIDS movements. Colorful images of the eight were featured on a parade bus wrap and informational pillars seen at more than two-dozen gay pride parades and celebrations across the country—a heartfelt artistic tribute on the 50th anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall riots, birth of the modern-day LGBTQ+ rights movement. “Our Champions” include Arthur Ashe, Archbishop Carl Bean, Chris Brownlie, Princess Diana, Connie Norman, Elizabeth Taylor, Pedro Zamora and Kramer.