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The Montgomery Endowment
Office of the Provost
6004 Parkhurst Hall
Dartmouth College
Hanover, N.H. 03655
(603) 646-4062

Larry Kramer
January 2012

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Larry Kramer was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and raised outside of Washington D. C. Mr. Kramer went on to Yale and then to entry-level jobs in the movie industry (as a script reader for Columbia Pictures and an associate producer for United Artists in London and Hollywood). His novel Faggots, a cautionary and no-holds-barred satire about gay life-style in Manhattan and Fire Island, was published in 1978 to praise but also to withering criticism by gay and straight readers. Although controversial at the time and, as it turned out, prescient in foretelling the catastrophic "plague years" that were soon to come, Faggots remains one of the best-selling gay novels ever published. In 1985, The Normal Heart, a play about the beginnings of the AIDS epidemic in New York and the indifference and blindness, with which the American health care system, government agencies, corporations, public officials, the media, and the population in general dealt with the crisis, opened to rave reviews. Named one of the "Hundred Best Plays of the 20th Century" by the Royal National Theatre of Great Britain, The Normal Heart has been produced around the world; its revival on Broadway in April 2011 won a Tony award. The Destiny of Me, a sequel to The Normal Heart that continues the story of Ned Weeks, the autobiographical hero of the earlier play, in his struggle against a homophobic bureaucracy, opened in 1992; it won two Obie awards and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

                In addition to his fictional work and his writing for the stage, Larry Kramer has been the most vocal advocate, polemicist, essayist, organizer, and protestor for gay rights in America. The Gay Men's Health Crisis he co-founded with five others in 1982 has been "the most significant direct-action campaign in the U.S. since the anti-Vietnam war movement." The demonstrations and civil disobedience of ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power), which he founded in 1987, and Mr. Kramer's enraged, often willfully offensive, lectures and newspaper articles helped to change the way medicine is practiced in the United States. Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease at NIH, and at one-time a high-value target of Larry Kramer's anger, has nothing but praise for Mr. Kramer's political activities: "He single-handedly ... created a style of health care activism that was never before experienced in this country or anywhere else"; "In American medicine, there are two eras. Before Larry and

 

Last Updated: 4/12/12