Why Larry Kramer’s Galvinizing Message About LGBT Activism Is The Same As It’s Always Been

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By Michelangelo Signorile

“I still have that anger and I would still like to galvanize everyone, but it doesn’t appear that we’re galvanize-able as a population,” AIDS activist, author and playwright Larry Kramer said, discussing why LGBT activism is so necessary at a time in which he fears complacency has set in. That anger is on full display in the new documentary about his life and work as an activist and writer, “Larry Kramer in Love and Anger,” which debuts on HBO tonight at 9 p.m.

“[It's] too bad,” he continued, in an interview with me on SiriusXM Progress, referring to the the vital work ahead for activists on AIDS and LGBT rights,“because we need activism more than ever now.”

That message – “we need activism more than ever now” — is actually the message Kramer, who turned 80 last week, has been pressing, sometimes literally screaming it from the top of his lungs, for more than 30 years. And as a founder of Gay Mens Health Crisis and organizer within ACT UP, he’s saved countless lives with that anger.

The film not only captures many of those moments, but charts a childhood, adolescence and young adulthood marred by homophobia and which helped infuse the anger and rebelliousness. The film, receiving some terrific reviews, was made by longtime filmmaker and activist Jean Carlomusto, a friend of Kramer’s who appears in the film at his bedside while he was in dire condition in an intensive care unit in 2013, being treated for complications from a liver transplant.

Carlomusto said she got the idea for the documentary after hearing Kramer read from an early draft of his new book, The American People.

“To hear him read from the book is truly amazing,” she said. “[He] has an amazing voice — the ancient mariner sits down, to give you this biblical history. That voice. That kind of provocateur that’s going to inspire you or push you beyond where you were comfortable going.”

She continued: “And I thought, why hasn’t a documentary been made about Larry yet? When I asked if I could do it, a number of people had asked him to do it, but he wasn’t keen at the time. But we worked it out and I’m glad. Because for me, it was a real gift.”

“Larry Kramer in Love and Anger” debuts on HBO at 9 p.m. Monday, June 29.

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