We need more people like Larry Kramer in the world. Kramer is an activist for gay rights and HIV/AIDS and was the main person responsible for finally getting the US Government to recognize the awful plague that AIDS was back in the 80’s and 90’s. If you think about it, he’s a hero in the true sense of the world with all of the lives he saved.
With Larry Kramer In Love & Anger, the fantastic new documentary that begins airing on , we get to witness his determination and drive from not only his point of view, but from the people who were there to witness it.
I was a bit young to know who Kramer was back in the 80’s. I first became aware of him through his brilliant semi-autographical play, The Normal Heart. I knew about it and read it years ago but when I got to see the revival on Broadway back in 2011, I was blown away. It was one of the most heart-wrenching things plays I’ve ever seen and it’s still as vivid in my mind now as the day I saw it.
The doc is basically a companion piece to the play. It tells Kramer’s story of his early childhood and teenage years, how he didn’t get along with his father who would call him a “sissy.” It follows his years in Hollywood as an assistant to when he became a wildly successful screenwriter. He was so successful – thanks in part to his brother who always negotiated his deals – yet, he began to hate it and the film industry. He wanted control over his work and words. So, he retreated and became a novelist, writing the controversial Faggots. The book dealt with the freewheeling lifestyle of gay New Yorkers and people hated it. Not because it was bad but because, through the main character (who he admits was himself), he was preaching that there was another way of life; he was looking for love, not just sex.
Around this time is when the AIDS virus hit New York. Kramer was one of the first activists to say something about it but his warnings fell on deaf ears. But, as one person says in the film, “that’s when Larry, who could spoil a dinner party, became useful.” He was like a dog who wouldn’t let go. Thorough his sheer force of will, he got the media to stand up and pay attention. He got the Reagan administration and NIH to finally relent and start to test our drugs in search of a cure.
I wish we had more people like Kramer in the world today. Someone fighting for what is right. Someone to start a movement on climate change, gun control. Let’s face it, Kramer saved lives. He’s an important figure in our history and this wonderful film should preserve his memory for years to come.