MSNBC‘s Geoffrey Cowley has unearthed a rare 1983 interview between Larry Kramer and Today show host Jane Pauley that offers a powerful glimpse at Kramer’s role as an early LGBT rights activist, and the experiences that ultimately inspired his hit play and HBO film A Normal Heart.
At the time, Kramer was working with the Gay Rights Health Crisis task force and had lost 20 friends to AIDS, a number which would, sadly, triple within just a few more years.
“Can you imagine what it would be like if you had lost 20 of your friends in the last 18 months?” Kramer asks Pauley.
“No,” she replies.
Kramer goes on to tell her that there is “No cause. No cure. People in hospitals. It’s a very angry community.”
“Angry at whom?” Pauley asks.
“We can’t seem to get the government, the National Institute of Health, to accelerate the research that’s going on,” Kramer replies. “We can’t even get the mayor of New York City to acknowledge publicly that there’s a health emergency.”
When asked by Pauley if the government’s lack of attention to the AIDS epidemic was because it only affected the gay community, Kramer replies:
“There’s no question in my mind, if this were happening to you and the white, straight middle class community it would have been attended to a long time ago.”
Of course, much of what he says in the interview is common knowledge today. But at the time, he was one of very few people speaking out about the issue and pointing a finger at the government for its lack of attention to the crisis.
Check out the interview below.