Vigil tomorrow at the aids memorial at 8 pm.
Last photo of Larry with Ivy and Michael P.
On the way to say goodbye to larry!
Savitri D and Bill Talen delivering the wonderful banner.
Some days stay with you.
Or they go on forever.
A hot New York summer on its way.
I started hearing about Larry Kramer’s passing.
Eric Sawyer wrote:
Feeling Devastated... the world has lost a HERO amongst men! I have lost one of the Best Friends I have ever had!
And then Jay Blotcher
We are all orphaned... but we are much stronger, thanks to this man.
Oh Jay Blotcher this is so hard. I'm so sorry. Its a more complicated parting than that of Andrew Velez. I was inspired by Larry Kramer. And infuriated by some of his generalizations from Faggots. But that's for another day. As for now, it’s time to remember the organizing model that gave us a way to act up and fight back, with swagger and anger, joy and defiance. I’m glad we got to see him one last time for the NY Times photo shoot.
The last time I saw Larry Kramer, Michael Petrelis said Ben, snap a shot of me with Larry. And I did. And the world turned upside down. #ThankYouLarry for working with a smart group of people to help us learn to organize. Power conceded nothing without a demand.
Of course, I had an ambivalent relationship with the man.
I guess many of us did.
“Gay men only think with their cocks,” he said it over and over again, for decades.
If I’d said it, they’d call me a homophobe.
SexPanic! advocates unsafe sex, he said about harm reduction.
He was not subtle.
He scolded anyone who disagreed with him.
Told Edmond White he shouldn’t write about anything but AIDS.
You are not doing anything, he said as international AIDS activists were changing international AIDS policy to get pills into bodies abroad.
But still, he started ACT UP and GMHC.
He sounded the alarm.
And taught us that there was a place for anger.
We could use that anger.
We could channel that anger.
The feelings about the horror could be translated into action.
This wasn’t the stuff of adolescent misbehavior.
We could ACT UP.
We could and should disobey, especially in the face of the horror.
When black people are killed by cops.
When Abner is tortured.
When Patrick is shot.
When George is killed,
“I can’t breathe” before his last breath.
When your friends are getting sick and no one is doing anything about it.
Jim Eigo recalled:
“The first time I met Larry in person, I was 24. Before this, we had been fighting for about a year, with increasing vitriol directed towards each other. When Truvada was FDA approved as PrEP back in 2012, Larry, among many others, was a vocal critic of those who used it. He viewed it, then, as our defeat, I viewed it as (part of) our salvation from a plague that was still raging. It was Jim, Peter, and my ex-boyfriend, all ACT UP alumni, who convinced me that we needed to sit down and break bread together, rather than screaming at each other online. We did, and after a suitable amount of food, wine and me agreeing to allow him to keep all the leftovers (I cooked), he become a supporter of increasing access to PrEP. In my mind, that dinner represented a turning point in the fight against HIV, where we stopped fighting among ourselves about PrEP, and began to fight to increase access to it. Larry's death represents another turning point. To quote him, we are in the midst of another fucking plague. The question, I think, Larry would ask of all of us is what are we doing to fight back? ARE WE ANGRY ENOUGH? ARE WE ORGANIZED ENOUGH? BECAUSE, RIGHT NOW, WE ARE AS GOOD AS DEAD. Larry, and a whole generation of queers that proceeded us, taught us how to fight back against a plague that at one time also seemed hopeless. They fought heroically, and won. But the generations who came after them -- us -- can no longer depend on just them to fight for us. Its our turn now.”
Reading these posts, I began to think of my run ins with Larry in the media and in real time.
There are so many heroes out there who I saw at demos, planning, acting, zapping, connecting the dots. Jennifer Flynn, Eustacia Smith, Sharonann Lynch, and countless others who kept doing the work. I can count on one hand the number of times I actually saw him at a demo. I recalled Steven Gendin’s funeral when Kramer read a note Steven had sent him saying he felt like Larry had left the activists behind. “That made me feel shitty,” confessed Kramer, the man who started ACT UP.
Jay and Eric and I talked.
There is a memorial planned for the 28th.
Jason, still active in ACT UP, and I chatted.
Come to my house.
I’ll ride you to the memorial on my tandem.
Savitri D is delivering the banner at six.
There is a George Floyd action at Union Square say other friends.
Can I get to the New York Shut It Down action and then go to the memorial?
Sure, says Jason.
The arrests already started at Union Square.
Savitri d and Bill Talen drop off the gorgeous banner.
And walk back home.
Jason and I ride into the city on my tandem.
The police confiscated it during the RNC.
Jason is talking with Eric Sawyer, who can’t make the memorial.
Send me a paragraph about it says Jason.
Riding to the vigil, we see cops zooming downtown.
The George Floyd action is downtown says Babs.
Don’t get arrested, says Jason.
Spring to Lafayette the cops lead me.
Down to City Hall, we march.
“George Floyd, say his name,” the activists scream.
“We are here today because there is another tragedy.”
Haley Hughes, one of my favorite New York artists is holding a sign that says "Justice for Breonna Taylor, murdered by police, Justice for George Floyd! Fuck killer pigs. Tear down these racist systems of hate. Justice for Ahmaud Arbery!"
Two teenage girls.
They were on the street say the cops.
But so are the rest of us.
"Don’t touch me. I just did my hair today," screams another.
“Let them go, Let them go!”
Everyone in masks.
Up to the AIDS memorial.
We all miss each other.
But we can’t touch.
All these losses add up.
Its like an avalanche.
I always thought he’d be around, thought Kate.
Ken, Jay, Emily, everyone has a Larry story.
Andy Humm wrote,
Paul Schindler just posted my obit on Larry Kramer for Gay City News. It begins:
Who will there be to be angry at Larry Kramer’s memorial service (if and when we are able to have memorial services again)?
When his gay and AIDS activist comrade Vito Russo died of AIDS in 1990, Kramer got up in front of a packed service at the Great Hall of the Cooper Union — then home to ACT UP meetings that attracted 500 people every Monday night — and spat, “You killed Vito! Every one of you!,” chiding us all for not doing enough amidst the plague that defined our gay lives and his own activism and art.
Kramer’s work arguably saved millions of lives around the globe. His own life ended May 27, 2020 after a long illness and a bout with pneumonia. He was 84 and is survived by his husband, David Webster, and those countless millions...
AlanTimothy Lunceford-Stevens weeps recalling being in the hospital with Kramer:
“LARRY – The WORD Larry was a whirlwind, a pain in the ass. Anger, Vinegar! Saw no one was playing it safe in the 80s! Time of Reagan, it took that President seven years to utter, One WORD AIDS! It would kill tens of thousands before, Protease Inhibitors in 1996 Larry Kramer wrote HERE WE GO ROUND THE MULBERRY BUSH, WOMEN IN LOVE, REMAKE OF LOST HORIZONS SISSIES’ SCRAPBOOK, later FOUR FRIENDS, A MINOR DARK AGE, THE FURNITURE OF HOME, THE NORMAL HEART, THE DESTINY OF ME, FAGGOTS, JUST SAY NO,REPORTS FROM THE HOLOCAUST, THE TRAGEDY OF TODAY’S GAYS, THE AMERICAN PEOPLE: A HISTORY,VOL 1 & 2. AN ARMY OF LOVERS MUST NOT DIE WE ARE NOT CRUMBS, WE MUST NOT ACCEPT CRUMBS, 1112 AND COUNTING, BE VERY AFRAID. FAGGOTS, A book some could relate to, While others hated As much as Larry Kramer Hated those who did nothing to End AIDS Now LARRY KRAMER died May 27, 2020 HIV Positive since 1988 At 84 years old, just a month before his 85th, living with HIV, A LIVER TRANSPLANT RECIPIENT with HIV Since 1980, No one from with HIV Has lived that long. Larry’s LEGACY, he Co-founded GMHC, founded ACTUPNY, and inspired thousands of offshoot Activist organizations that came later… TREATMENT ACTION GROUP, HEALTHGAP, HOUSING WORKS. Just to name a few. Now there’s Protease Inhibitors. PreP, PEP And new plans for prevention and treatment Keeping folks NEGATIVE Keeping folks POSITIVE & UNDETECTABLE & UNINFECTABLE The WORD RECKONED A Failure by the system to stop Millions of the Worlds population from The WORD AIDS The WORD KRAMER The WORD LARRY”
Over and over speakers are interrupted by sirens,
A woman screaming on the sidewalk.
Andy Humm writes:
“My obit on Larry Kramer will be up on Gay City News soon. I started it in 2013 when he was so sick, but put it aside. Kept telling myself to get it ready for instant publication, but couldn't make myself do it--even while sheltering in place. So I had to scramble to finish it off this afternoon into this evening. (I guess I didn't want to think about losing him.) One story not in there is how I met him. I was a gay activist in 1978 and he had just written the infamous novel "Faggots!" which was a forbidden book in movement circles. Oscar Wilde Bookshop refused to carry it! When I was invited on a radio show to debate him, I had not read it! We had a spirited exchange anyway--and a friendly talk afterwards. I did finally read the book--which I know many still loathe but that I had to agree with Larry was "picaresque." Only learned recently that he didn't want that to be the title of the book, but the publisher insisted.
Last year, Judith M. Kasen-Windsor who lives at 2 Fifth where Larry lived arranged for old friends to spend time with Larry during the day for several weeks while Larry's husband David had to be out of town. I hadn't spent much time with him in the past year and it was great to reconnect. We'd chat for just a bit. He had become VERY soft spoken (and I'm hard of hearing). But he would then turn back to his work on two big computer screens. He was writing a new play! As much as he could be appallingly negative ("We've failed!!!") he never stopped working and always believed we could remake the world if we would just get angry and organized enough. We will not see his like again.”
Jay tells a story about watching Larry through the years, about watching him live.
Did you ever imagine people with AIDS with live to 84?
Thank you Larry.
He helped me see I had a voice, noted Ken as we left.
He also insulted a lot of us.
I’m glad you were around to bring us all together,
United in our anger.
We must love one another or die, he echoed Auden.
One of the good ones, in a world of treachery.
Amanda and I chat about it all on a bench and I ride home, thinking about the good ones.
“You see? There are still faint glimmers of civilization left in this barbaric slaughterhouse that was once known as humanity. Indeed that's what we provide in our own modest, humble, insignificant - (sighs deeply). Oh, fuck it.
-M. Gustave, The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)”