Larry Kramer used voice, pen to raise consciousness on AIDS

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FILE - This May 12, 2014 file photo shows playwright Larry Kramer at the premiere of HBO Films' "The Normal Heart" in New York. 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, died Wednesday, May 27, 2020 in Manhattan of pneumonia. He was 84. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)

NEW YORK – Time never softened the urgency of Larry Kramer’s demands.

Theatergoers leaving a celebrated revival of Kramer’s “The Normal Heart” in 2011 were greeted by the playwright himself, deep in his 70s by then, handing out leaflets outside the Broadway theater demanding they do more to stop AIDS.

“Please know that AIDS is a worldwide plague. Please know there is no cure,” the leaflets read.

That same year, Kramer found time to help the American Foundation for Equal Rights mount their play “8” on Broadway about the legal battle over same-sex marriage in California. “I don’t believe much acting is required other than being fervent and I’m pretty good at that,” he joked to The Associated Press.

Kramer, whose angry voice and pen raised consciousness about AIDS and roused thousands to action, died Wednesday at 84. His art was often as blunt as his anger, but his dedication was unwavering.

“There’s so many things I still want to do and there are so many fights still to win. I try to concentrate on that,” he said. “The fight’s never over.”

One of his last projects was the two-volume “The American People,” which chronicled the history of gay people in America. It took him decades to write. “I just think it’s so important that we know our history — the history of how badly we’re treated and how hard we have to fight to get what we deserve, which is equality,” he said.

Kramer 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 that causes it. He also suffered from hepatitis B, and in 2001, received a liver transplant.