Larry Kramer was never afraid to speak his mind and continued to fight the system and status quo up until his death. He was even writing a play this spring when the coronavirus first emerged.
“It’s about gay people having to live through three plagues,” he said.
At 84 he was still engaged and knew perhaps more than anyone the scale of what was to come.
My name is Mathilde Laderud, I am from Norway and have lived the past 10 years in NYC. I have worked for the U.N. and later in documentary and film production. I am writing this because I am a huge fan of Larry Kramer. I have been moved by his conviction and dedication and try to channel his strength whenever I feel that something is too much to handle for just one person. Larry taught us that there is always something you can do, even if you are the only one fighting.
During these past few months of irregular life schedules, people have begun to wake up and are asking themselves what parts of normal are no longer acceptable. The past few months of isolation has provided a vacuum of solitude away from regular distractions. The injustices happening around the world are now right in front of us, visible and impossible to brush aside. We are seeing people organizing and no longer accepting the silence or the lies we’re fed from the media and our governments.
Larry said silence equals death. Today I am seeing people all over the world taking power into their own hands, going to the streets without fear and protesting, asking questions and demanding justice. Protesting is no longer only for the radicals, like Larry and his fellow protesters were called. In the U.S. and across the world people are protesting decades of systemic racism and the murders of so many innocent black men and women. Simultaneously minorities and poor communities around the world are dying disproportionately from the coronavirus.
In the U.S. we have a health care system that denies access to its most vulnerable citizens. It’s a system that punishes you for being sick, or losing your job — a time when you need this support the most. if you lose your job in the U.S., you also lose your health insurance. Larry fought to change the healthcare system and demanded that everyone should have access to health care and new drugs. He said, “everyone should be angry.” Needless to say, the situation in the U.S. is very unstable and in need of a serious makeover.
Around a year ago we saw millions across the globe protesting climate change and demanding change from governments. The protests have already changed the way politicians and businesses leaders talk about climate change and added urgency to the political debate. The U.K.’s House of Commons has declared a “climate emergency,” and some cities have followed, including Sydney, New York and Paris.
I want to thank Larry for teaching us to say “no”, “I will not stand for this” and “we need to do better” He fought against inaction from leaders and people in positions of power, and against the apathy he sometimes found within his own people.
“I am sick of everyone in this community who tells me to stop creating a panic. How many of us have to die before you get scared off your ass and into action? Aren’t 195 dead New Yorkers enough?” he wrote in his 1983 essay “1,112 and Counting” for the New York Native magazine. You don’t get anything unless you fight for it, united and with visible numbers. Without him, millions of people more would die from HIV/AIDS. The drugs that are here today are because of Larry Kramer and no one in history can dispute that. We must all take Larry’s advice, to think big and try to change the world.