Rare 1983 Larry Kramer Interview Offers A Glimpse At His Role As An Outspoken Activist

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.

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  • Mezaien

    Larry Kramer, with you man. I am white African, American. Every second person in Botswana, is now HIV+ thanks for your hard work by education the world.

  • NG22

    After watching the film, my heart is just broken. I can never understand the pain he felt, or the fear and agony of the victims, but watching the film made me get to know some of the characters who were inspired by people Larry lost.

    Again, I am heartbroken. My condolences and apologies to those who lived through the crisis. I find your courage inspirational. I wish you the best.

  • StephK

    Saw the movie on HBO and it brought back memories of those terrible years which I thought I had put out of my mind. Because of Kramer and his peers, GMHC, ACT UP & GOD’S LOVE WE DELIVER help and care were there. One day there will be a stamp to honor this prophet and activist who showed us how to stand up for themselves and others.As a whole new generation learned about Harvey Milk , so too they are now learning about this hero.

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