In Memoriam

Celebrities pay tribute to queer hero Larry Kramer

The world continues to mourn the loss of Larry Kramer, the 84-year-old writer and activist who co-founded ACT UP and the Gay Men’s Health Crisis.

History will remember Kramer as a lion of LGBTQ literature, having penned the the play The Normal Heart about the AIDS crisis. Now, queer and straight celebrities alike have expressed their sorrow over his passing.

“We have lost a giant of a man who stood up for gay rights like a warrior,” said Sir Elton John. “His anger was needed at a time when gay men’s deaths to Aids were being ignored by the American government.”

“Larry and I first met around 1991 at an Act Up meeting when I stood up to argue for a less extreme version of closing down the NYC bridges and tunnels,” John Cameron Mitchell recalled via Instagram. “I said, in San Francisco people died when they did that cuz ambulances couldn’t get through.Larry screamed at me “WE’RE dying!” and I was shouted down. But he was always my spiritual hero despite my radical centrism. And when i got to play his tender younger self it changed my life completely. Suddenly I wanted nothing more than to play complex and inspiring queer roles instead of what we were supposed to do – cower in the closet and be grateful for the scraps that hetero culture threw to us.”

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@annieleibovitz shot #LarryKramer, and his alter egos played by the brilliant #JonathanHadary and little me in #TheDestinyOfMe – in @vanityfair circa 1993. Larry and I first met around 1991 at an Act Up meeting when i stood up to argue for a less extreme version of closing down the nyc bridges and tunnels. I said, in San Francisco people died when they did that cuz ambulances couldn’t get through.Larry screamed at me “WE’RE dying!” and I was shouted down. But he was always my spiritual hero despite my radical centrism. And when i got to play his tender younger self it changed my life completely. Suddenly I wanted nothing more than to play complex and inspiring queer roles instead of what we were supposed to do – cower in the closet and be grateful for the scraps that hetero culture threw to us.

A post shared by John Cameron Mitchell (@johncameronmitchell) on

“I’ve had an interesting, unusual — and in some respects, wonderful — journey with Larry over the years,” Dr. Anthony Fauci told The Washington Blade. The pair got to know each other through their work fighting AIDS in the 1980s.

Related: Larry Kramer will take on COVID-19 in his latest play

“Since I was in his mind a representative of the government that he felt wasn’t moving quickly or well enough with HIV,” Fauci continued, “we started off in somewhat of an adversarial role where he was attacking me for any number of reasons, and then as we got to know each other and realized that we both had a common goal that we shared, we became acquaintances, then friends, then really, really close friends.”

“Larry Kramer valued every gay life at a time when so many gay men had been rendered incapable of valuing our own lives,” writer Dan Savage said via Twitter. “He ordered us to love ourselves and each other and to fight for our lives. He was a hero.”

ACT UP also released a statement announcing a special New York City memorial for Kramer May 28. The event will take place at the NYC AIDS Memorial, located on Seventh Avenue at 12th Street at 8pm, EST, and will follow social distancing and face mask procedures in accordance with COVID-19 regulations. The event will also stream on the ACT UP New York page on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.