NEW YORK – Larry Kramer, the playwright whose angry voice and pen raised theatergoers’ consciousness about AIDS and roused thousands to militant protests in the early years of the epidemic, has died at 84.
Bill Goldstein, a writer who was working on a biography of Kramer, confirmed the news to The Associated Press. Kramer's husband, David Webster, told The New York Times that Kramer died Wednesday of pneumonia.
“We have lost a giant of a man who stood up for gay rights like a warrior. His anger was needed at a time when gay men’s deaths to AIDS were being ignored by the American government,” said Elton John in a statement.
Kramer, who wrote “The Normal Heart” and founded the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power, or ACT UP, lost his lover to acquired immune deficiency syndrome in 1984 and was himself infected with the virus. He also suffered from hepatitis B and received a liver transplant in 2001 because the virus had caused liver failure.
He was nominated for an Academy Award for his screenplay for “Women in Love,” the 1969 adaptation of D.H. Lawrence’s novel. It starred Glenda Jackson, who won her first Oscar for her performance.
He also wrote the 1972 screenplay “Lost Horizon,” a novel, “Faggots,” and the plays “Sissies’ Scrapbook,” “The Furniture of Home,” “Just Say No” and “The Destiny of Me,” which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 1993.
But for many years he was best known for his public fight to secure medical treatment, acceptance and civil rights for people with AIDS. He loudly told everyone that the gay community was grappling with a plague.
Tributes from the arts community flooded in Wednesday, with Lin-Manuel Miranda on Twitter saying “What an extraordinary writer, what a life.” Dan Savage wrote: “He ordered us to love ourselves and each other and to fight for our lives. He was a hero.”