Larry Kramer, Playwright and AIDS Activist, Dead at 84
By Antoinette Bueno
Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival
Larry Kramer, a prominent AIDS activist and playwright, has died.
Kramer died on Wednesday in Manhattan of pneumonia, The New York Times reports. He was 84 years old and is survived by his husband, David Webster, whom he married in 2013.
The writer and film producer earned an Oscar nomination for his screenplay for 1969's Women in Love and is also known for writing his semi-autobiographical play, The Normal Heart, in 1985, which was later turned into an HBO film directed by Ryan Murphy. It starred Mark Ruffalo as Ned Weeks, an activist experiencing the HIV-AIDS crisis in New York City in the early '80s. The film also starred Matt Bomer, Taylor Kitsch, Jim Parsons, Alfred Molina and Julia Roberts.
Kramer's activist work has been monumental. He co-founded the Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC) in 1982, a major non-profit assisting people living with AIDS. In 1987, he founded the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP), an influential, international political group working to end the AIDS pandemic.
ACT UP's official Twitter account tweeted about Kramer's death on Wednesday.
"Rest in power to our fighter Larry Kramer," the message reads. "Your rage helped inspire a movement. We will keep honoring your name and spirit with action. In the spirit of ACT UP, join us and chant this (three times). #ACTUPFightbackENDAIDS #ACTUPFightbackENDAIDS #ACTUPFightbackENDAIDS."
A number of celebrities have mourned Kramer's death on social media, including Elton John.
"We have lost a giant of a man who stood up for gay rights like a warrior," he wrote. "His anger was needed at a time when gay men's deaths to AIDS were being ignored by the American government: a tragedy that made the Gay Men's Health Crisis and ACT UP movements so vital."
"He never stopped shouting about the injustices against us," he continued. "His voice was the loudest and the most effective. ... I was proud to know him and his legacy must be maintained. My heart goes out to his beloved husband David Webster."
Bomer also Instagrammed a picture of himself with Kramer.
"I don't have the words to properly express my gratitude, admiration, and love for you," Bomer wrote. "Your writing was bold, courageous, and urgent. It educated, stirred people to action, and saved lives. A towering intellect and an amazing wit. My time with you is something I will treasure for the rest of my life. Rest In Peace my friend."
Meanwhile, Kitsch wrote on his Instagram Story of Kramer, "What a fighter. In every sense of the word. Was honored to have had some time with him. ... Truly one of the most inspiring people I've been around. I loved his dry humor."
Read more tributes to Kramer below:
When so much of the world refused to see any value in our beating hearts, Larry Kramer's rage helped lift us out of invisibility. It was an honor to know him. Today, our movement has lost one of its greatest fighters. Tonight, shout it so he can hear it: #ActUpFightBackEndAIDS
Larry Kramer valued every gay life at a time when so many gay men had been rendered incapable of valuing our own lives. He ordered us to love ourselves and each other and to fight for our lives. He was a hero.
I met Larry Kramer when I was 18 or 19 & did a reading of his play The Destiny of Me. Getting to converse with him & soak up some of his incredible energy was galvanizing, & was one of the main reasons I then chose to live my life as a publicly out actor at a time when few did. https://t.co/QAA4hfD6z3
— Anthony Rapp SAG-AFTRA National & NY Board Member (@albinokid) May 27, 2020
God Bless You, Larry Kramer. Everyone in the LGBTQ community owes you a debt of gratitude.
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. Devastated to learn of Larry Kramer’s passing and holding all his loved ones in my heart. Rest in power. https://t.co/R22u5rRCIq
Performing in The Normal Heart changed the course of my life in ways I couldn’t imagine in 2011. You cannot hide from Larry Kramer anymore than you can hide from the truth. Larry gave us his whole heart & we gave him ours. I listened to the words we said. I listened and I learned
"It was one of those unfortunate times in American history where our democracy, the people who lead us, the medical community, really, really dropped the ball," Ruffalo told ET. "But through grace and love and determination, a handful of people changed the world forever."