World AIDS Museum Celebrates 30 years of ACT UP

On Friday, March 10, The World AIDS Museum and Education Center presents “An Evening with Larry Kramer” at The Sunshine Cathedral (1480 SW 9th Ave, Fort Lauderdale). Kramer is an 81 year old playwright and activist who was on the front lines during the early days of the AIDS crisis. He was there when President Regan wouldn’t even speak about AIDS and he taught us all that we need to fight for our own lives if we want to be saved. No one would do it for us.

Kramer graduated from Yale University in 1957 with a degree in English but his time at the Ivy League school was not all sun and roses. After a suicide attempt because he felt like the only gay person on campus, he was determined to explore his sexuality and according to the New York Times “fight for gay people’s worth.”

He was nominated for an Oscar for his screenplay adaptation of “Women In Love” by D.H. Lawrence and in 1978, he went on to pen the novel “Faggots,” which followed the main character (said to be loosely biographical) couldn’t find love while searching through drug infested trendy discos and clubs.

In 1981, Kramer invited a group of gay men to his apartment where a doctor told them that about an illness that was killing gay men in New York. That group eventually became the Gay Men’s Health Crisis, which was the first organization fighting to find a cure for what would later be called HIV/AIDS. He was blunt and confrontational and he faced a backlash because of it. His adversarial style paid off by getting more media attention for the crisis, but it was personally costly.

After his ouster from GMHC, Kramer went on to found the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power or ACT UP, an organization that encouraged civil disobedience to make the point that something needed to be done to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS.

He is perhaps most widely known for his play “The Normal Heart” which opened Off Broadway at the famed Public Theatre (think Hamilton) and has gone on to be produced hundreds of times across the globe including a triumphant run on Broadway just a few years ago. It was most recently made into an HBO movie starring Mark Ruffalo and Julia Roberts and directed by “American Horror Story” and “Glee’s” Ryan Murphy.

Kramer is quite a force to be reckoned with and he has been fighting for the gay community since long before it was socially acceptable to come out as an openly gay person in society.  It is a pleasure to present this Hotspots Exclusive interview with Larry Kramer before his presentation at the Sunshine Cathedral on March 10.

1.Hotspots: You were at the “ground zero” of the AIDS epidemic, and you played a role in creating both ACT UP and The Gay Men’s Health Crisis. With the help of fighters like you, we have come so far in the fight to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS. What are some of the accomplishments that you are most proud of?

Kramer: I am more proud of ACT UP than of anything I have ever done or written.

2. With anti-LGBT forces back in control in Washington, do you see a renewed call for organizations like ACT UP to put pressure on lawmakers? 

The fight for our rights requires and has required and will always require constant 24/7 vigilance. The fight is never over.

3. Would you share with us any ideas that you have about taking the fight forward so that we don’t get complacent and lose the gains of the past 30 years?

What has to be done is not rocket science. See above response to question 2.

4. How autobiographical was “The Normal Heart?”  Is Ned really Larry?

No comment

5. What really pisses you off these days?

Gay people who don’t fight for their rights.

Tickets to An Evening with Larry Kramer presented by the World AIDS Museum and Education Center are $25. For more information or purchase tickets, visit WorldAIDSMuseum.org. 

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Ian Maloney
Ian Maloney is from Delmar, DE. He lives in Miami Beach with his husband Alan and their dog Goldie. He loves learning languages, history, and writing about politics. He holds a Master's Degree from Wilmington University and a Bachelor's from the University of Delaware.