Revisiting the Archive: Larry Kramer

Making Gay History
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Automatic TRANSCRIPT

I've talked before in this series revisiting the archive about anger. How it can fuel action? How an anger is partnered with love? It can produce a kind of righteous rage that propels us those of us who lived through the AIDS crisis. Know about it. Some of US learned it from Larry Kramer who died this week in Manhattan where he's lived for. Decades Larry was famous for being one of the first billions to sound the alarm during that last epidemic. The one that began forty years ago he was on the front lines even before aids was called AIDS and became a global epidemic at swept away more than thirty million lives before AIDS. Larry was best known for his work as a screenwriter and author but the virus that was claiming so many lives in the political indifference political negligence that greeted it turned Larry into a very public activist. His friends were dying and he felt compelled to do something more than to just bury the dead and mourn their loss in nineteen. Eighty-two Larry co-founded a gay men's health crisis now known as GM five years later he co-founded act up the AIDS coalition to unleash power. Act Up came to be known for its brilliant use of public protests to bring attention to the epidemic by early nineteen eighty nine. When I I met Larry AIDS take in more than sixty thousand lives. Most of them. Gay Men Larry quickly earned a reputation as an uncompromising firebrand with a fierce temper. I'm not proud of it. But that kind of person generally inspires me to run in the other direction. I was more than a little anxious. I approached the door to Larry's apartment in a building that fronts Washington Square Park in New York. City's Greenwich Village. As I said when this episode originally aired I got myself worked up. Nothing I brace myself for a tornado and found the teddy bear. Here's the same. Larry welcomed me into a spacious apartment and showed me into his all white book line living room and I took a seat opposite him across a broad desk as I said at my tape recorder and attach the Mike to his shirt. We talked about how we both had wanted to find a husband early in life and settle down and that led us back in time to Larry's memories as it confused and Unhappy College student in the Early Nineteen fifties. I pressed record interview with Larry Kramer Thursday January twenty six thousand nine hundred eighty nine at the home of Larry Kramer in New York City. Interviewer is Eric. Marcus tape one side one. When I went to Yale I thought I was the only gay person in the world and tried to kill myself because I was so lonely. Did try to What am I think that was fifty? Three was the year my freshman year. Yeah is awful. I mean I do want to go back that far curious because I was a college student on seventy six desperately unhappy. We're at Vassar College. There were there were a lot of gays. They weren't that many people think there were a lot if there were so many gays. Why was I so unhappy? Miserable person and And deaths seemed very appealing at moments during my freshman year when I was dating a woman in making off the man by in life and fifty three must have been much more difficult than seventy six at Vassar. You can even start in shifty. Three Easter I knew I was gay. I think from the day I was born and I think that there have been I. I now know that there were isolate. They were experiences all through before. I even got to Yale. And they were all covert in guilt. Inducing on on everybody's part so the it seemed as if all those early years were spent trying to deny these feelings the feelings would sort of get to strong erupt in and I would have an experience. Which would autumn always make me feel guilty in one way or another and then you put it you become. Sylvia's would come down for a while a week a week or two and Yale was awful. There was a gay bar called parolees. It was awful the time when I finally have the courage to go there. It was only two blocks from campus. But it was a million years away. It was very dark and grey and inside and smokey and and filled with old old older man and I only went the once and somebody picked me up. A car drove for like hours before we found a place that was quiet to do it and then he drove me back where you didn't say a word all of that list of yourself. I eight two hundred aspirin. Oh my God talk about slow and Miss. You must have been pretty miserable to swallow two hundred and yours anymore. Will after you wanted out. Was that who knows. It's a scene. I'll never forget the scene of taking pills the Yup and find you're still better. I didn't wake up. I I went to bed and I got scared and I call. The campus. Police came took me to the hospital and put myself and that was in woke then I fell asleep and I woke up in a room with bars and after grace new haven hospital and there. Was this very unpleasant hospital psychiatrist. Who said all right Mr Cramer? Why did you do it and I go fuck yourself or words to that end he said? I'm now you're not going to be let out of this hospital until you tell us why you did it. And I just had a few rubbed me the wrong way and I wouldn't have told who who knew why I did it anyway. So my brother who's always sort of looked after me came and got me out and he was friends with the dean of Freshmen. My brother had been the before me and And it was you know ordinarily when something like that happen you were shipped off to go join the army really in those days. Yeah and then you come back to Yale and you've grown up but they let me stay. If I went to the University of Coyote. Just his name was Dr Fry Clement Fry. And he was about in the sixties he had silver hair and it was a good looking man he whereas reptiles button down shirt and You just knew that. He cared more about Yale and he ever did about you

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