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R.I.P. Larry Kramer, The Normal Heart author and AIDS activist

Illustration for article titled R.I.P. Larry Kramer, The Normal Heart author and AIDS activist
Photo: Slaven Vlasic (Getty Images)

Acclaimed author, playwright, and AIDS activist Larry Kramer has died. Kramer’s passing was confirmed to The New York Times by his husband, David Webster, who cited pneumonia as the cause of death. Kramer had struggled with various illnesses over the years, including liver disease and H.I.V.—the latter of which he was diagnosed with in 1988, seven years after Kramer founded the Gay Men’s Health Crisis, the first organization created to help those who had tested positive for H.I.V. He was 84 years old.


After he was kicked out of that group for his aggressive tactics, Kramer took his no-nonsense approach to Act Up, an outspoken organization known for its confrontational public demonstrations and protests intended to raise awareness about the growing AIDS crisis. Kramer’s efforts caught the attention of Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who told the New York Times that Kramer was “essential” in speeding the development of H.I.V. treatments. Fauci took notice of Kramer when the latter published an antagonistic open letter to the doctor in a 1988 issue of The San Francisco Examiner, in which Kramer described Fauci as “an incompetent idiot.” The two later became friends.

Among his numerous accomplishments, Kramer earned an Academy Award nomination for his screenplay for 1969's Women In Love, directed by Ken Russell, and was the author of acclaimed plays such as The Normal Heart (which Ryan Murphy adapted as a feature film for HBO) and The Destiny Of Me (a Pulitzer Prize finalist). Kramer remained creatively active in the last months of his life: A New York Times feature published on March 28 of this year revealed that Kramer was writing a new play in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, titled An Army Of Lovers Must Not Die.

Kramer is survived by his husband, David Webster. The two began a relationship that ended in the ’70s and resumed in 1991, and officially married in New York on July 24, 2013—in the intensive care unit of NYU Langone Medical Center, where Kramer was recovering from an operation.