The New York Times‘ new profile of Larry Kramer is essential reading. Kramer, who is 78 and seriously ill, has led a long career that could be praised indefinitely. Achieving great heights as both an author (of gay classics such as the novel Faggots) and as a gay advocate (founding Gay Men’s Health Crisis), Kramer is a landmark figure in the battle for equality. With a forthcoming (out 5/25) HBO movie adaptation of his best known work, the play The Normal Heart, Kramer is about to see the widest-ever exposure for one of his works.
While the Times could have easily taken this profile as the chance to blindly praise Kramer, the profile by Patrick Healy pushes far past the easy answers, revealing the difficult sides of Kramer along with the revolutionary ones. It touches on his infamous clash with Barbra Streisand over the rights for The Normal Heart, and the profile intimately probes both sides of the dispute. (Kramer says Streisand called gay sex ‘distasteful,’ which was the tip-off to him that their friendship was not meant to be.)
In 2014, political correctness is widely accepted as the best m.o. for gay advocates, but Kramer does not shy away from negativity and abrasiveness. The NYT profile ends on a terrific quote from him, saying of the autobiographical Normal Heart: “It’s [a film] about speaking up, being a buffalo if you have to, being mean if you have to…You do not get more with honey than with vinegar.”
Kramer notes that he still feels the fight for gay equality has a long way to go, specifically pointing out that gay people have little power in Washington. He emphatically encourages young people to “take up protest politics.”