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Letters to the Editor: Larry Kramer, the gay community’s ‘Old Testament figure wrapped in righteous fury’

Larry Kramer

Larry Kramer speaking at a Boston Gay Town Meeting in June 1987.

(Ellen Shub / HBO)

To the editor: As a gay activist who survived the AIDS pandemic, I owe Larry Kramer my life. But just as important, he inspired me and countless others to live our lives fearlessly. (“Larry Kramer, ‘Normal Heart’ playwright and AIDS activist, dies at 84,” May 27)

Kramer saved a generation of gay men and transformed them. We emerged from the era of AIDS as a new community, a stronger community, changed in ways that we perhaps still do not fully appreciate.

Kramer refused to allow us to fade quietly into the night; he called us to arms when all seemed hopeless. He taught us that provocation was something we needed to embrace. Kramer was our prophet, a craggy-faced, Old Testament figure wrapped in righteous fury. He was our John Brown, our Malcolm X, our Che Guevara.

Kramer’s response to institutionalized homophobia and inertia was not to run for City Council but to threaten to burn down City Hall.

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He was reminiscent of the Homeric heroes of the Iliad — imperfect yet awe-inspiring. Our debt to him is immeasurable.

Steve Martin, West Hollywood


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