LGBTQ Activist Larry Kramer and Why We Started Paying Attention

This story is part of the Pride Month Trailblazers series. Watch the video here!

June of 1981 marked the beginning of what would soon become known as the AIDS epidemic in the United States, an outbreak of HIV/AIDS that would kill more than 300,000 people by the early 90’s. This moment and the years that would follow are littered with discrimination and homophobia, but are as well as activism and demonstration, especially from people like Larry Kramer.

An author and playwright, Larry Kramer led aggressive campaigns throughout the 80’s that called for an all-out response to the HIV/AIDS crisis. In a time where the Reagan administration turned its back on the LGBT community and those suffering from AIDS, Kramer's activism was game changing.

His work helped shift the national response and reaction to the virus that he recognized as a threat to millions. Of the notable names that heard Kramer’s calls for action was Dr. Anthony Fauci. Fauci said that Kramer helped him see how the government was slowing down the search for treatments and credits him with playing an essential role in their eventual development.

Fellow activist Susan Sontag called Larry Kramer “one of America’s most valuable troublemakers,” and even many of the politicians that Kramer would accuse of murder and genocide praised his outbursts as actions that would shock the country into seriously dealing with the epidemic at hand.

Larry Kramer died of pneumonia on May 27, 2020, at age 84, less than a month short of his 85th birthday.

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