Larry Kramer: 'You Have to be Seen and Shove it in Their F*cking Faces'

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Photo by J.R. Davis.

For Larry Kramer, it’s the 80s all over again and Donald Trump is the second coming of Ronald Reagan.

“You have no idea how much we are hated again in the halls of power. It’s the same system as Reagan,” said the author and long time activist. Kramer was at the World AIDS Museum in Wilton Manors Thursday night to discuss activism, ACT UP, and his new book “The American People: Volume 1: Search for My Heart: A Novel.”

Kramer’s visit was arranged to highlight the museum’s new exhibit “AIDS Crisis in America: 30 Years of ACT UP – A Convergence of Disease, Art and Human Resilience” which will run for eight weeks. 

Related: Larry Kramer Coming to the World AIDS Museum

Hugh Beswick, CEO of the World AIDS Museum, said Kramer was the perfect person to choose. 

“Everybody we talked to said you can’t tell the story of ACT UP without Larry.

ACT UP was for AIDS what Martin Luther King was for the Civil Rights struggle,” Beswick said. “In his own abrasive style, he was the MLK of ACT UP, of the response to the AIDS crisis. And like MLK, he had his detractors. And even his detractors give him credit.”

The historical comparison by Beswick, given before Kramer spoke, proved apt for that night.

“We have to fight the same fights all over again. Hard times have returned,” Kramer told the crowd that filled the museum to come see him speak and get their books signed. He also kept a sense of humor about the expected repeat struggle. This time, he said, he’d name ACT UP “oh fuck, I didn’t know I’d have to fight this thing again.”

The fights are the same but so too are the tactics he recommended – the same ones he’s subscribed to all his life.

“You have to be seen and shove it in their fucking faces,” he said to applause from the crowd. “You can’t stay in your little condo or dance [in a club] until dawn. You can’t stay hidden ... you mustn’t put up with it anymore.”

On his book, Kramer said it includes the origins and history of AIDS – “I’m 100 percent convinced AIDS was intentionally allowed to happen. I have no doubt,” – the gay story behind the settlement at Jamestown, and a list of famous Americans who are allegedly gay, including Abraham Lincoln, Mark Twain, George Washington, and Alexander Hamilton – the latter two, he said, were deeply in love. He joked that the revelations of Lincoln’s homosexuality “would sure shock Republicans.” 

Volume 2 is planned to be released about two years from now and, at 775 pages, Kramer joked that’s how long it will take to read the first volume. 

Related: SFGN Interviews Larry Kramer 

“It became more and more important to tell our history. That’s why I won’t go to see [the Broadway play] Hamilton. It’s a lie. Alexander Hamilton was very much a gay man. So much of our history is gay. We have to claim that. That’s something to be proud of.”

On activism, Kramer said it wasn’t some grand sweeping vision or an abstract fight for equal rights that got him engaged. The match which lit his fuse was much closer to home. “It was the death of so many friends [because of AIDS] that kicked me in the ass.”

But no matter the cause, Kramer told the crowd that anyone can be an activist. “I don’t think I’ve done anything anyone of you couldn’t do. I’m a writer and I started to write. It’s not rocket science.”

Larry Elwyn, a gay man who lived in San Francisco at the height of the AIDS epidemic, said he’s known of Kramer since back when “everyone knew him as an asshole.” But it was an asshole and a fighter, said Elwyn, that the gay community needed to gain the attention it needed and deserved to fight AIDS. “I had friends who were dropping like flies. They were dropping faster than you could say their names.”

During the rest of his trip to South Florida, Kramer will attend “An Evening with Larry Kramer,” also presented by the museum, on Friday, March 10 at 8 p.m. at Sunshine Cathedral in Fort Lauderdale. Kramer will discuss HIV/AIDS and the history of the LGBTQ community over the last 35 years with Kevin Sessums, past contributing editor to Vanity Fair and author of “Mississippi Sissy.” Tickets are $25. Tickets can be purchased at WorldAIDSMuseum.com.

On Saturday, March 11 from 12 to 5 p.m. at ArtServe in Fort Lauderdale, the “POZ Millennials Symposium” will be held. The World AIDS Museum and Stonewall Museum & Archives will co-sponsor the event, a panel of influential people involved in AIDS crisis activism during the past 30 years. The event is free. Both events are open to the public.

 

Check out book signing photos on our Facebook page.

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[Sent photos via email]


Larry Kramer at Sunshine Cathedral Tonight, Says Keep Fighting at Book Signing


By Michael d’Oliveira


For Larry Kramer, it’s the 80s all over again and Donald Trump is the second coming of Ronald Reagan.


“You have no idea how much we are hated again in the halls of power. It’s the same system as Reagan,” said the author and long time activist. Kramer was at the World AIDS Museum in Wilton Manors Thursday night to discuss activism, ACT UP, and his new book “The American People: Volume 1: Search for My Heart: A Novel.”


Kramer’s visit was arranged to highlight the museum’s new exhibit “AIDS Crisis in America: 30 Years of ACT UP – A Convergence of Disease, Art and Human Resilience” which will run for eight weeks.


Hugh Beswick, CEO of the World AIDS Museum, said Kramer was the perfect person to choose.


“Everybody we talked to said you can’t tell the story of ACT UP without Larry.

ACT UP was for AIDS what Martin Luther King was for the Civil Rights struggle,” Beswick said. “In his own abrasive style, he was the MLK of ACT UP, of the response to the AIDS crisis. And like MLK, he had his detractors. And even his detractors give him credit.”


The historical comparison by Beswick, given before Kramer spoke, proved apt for that night.


“We have to fight the same fights all over again. Hard times have returned,” Kramer told the crowd that filled the museum to come see him speak and get their books signed. He also kept a sense of humor about the expected repeat struggle. This time, he said, he’d name ACT UP “oh fuck, I didn’t know I’d have to fight this thing again.”


The fights are the same but so too are the tactics he recommended – the same ones he’s subscribed to all his life.


“You have to be seen and shove it in their fucking faces,” he said to applause from the crowd. “You can’t stay in your little condo or dance [in a club] until dawn. You can’t stay hidden ... you mustn’t put up with it anymore.”


On his book, Kramer said it includes the origins and history of AIDS – “I’m 100 percent convinced AIDS was intentionally allowed to happen. I have no doubt,” – the gay story behind the settlement at Jamestown, and a list of famous Americans who are allegedly gay, including Abraham Lincoln, Mark Twain, George Washington, and Alexander Hamilton – the latter two, he said, were deeply in love. He joked that the revelations of Lincoln’s homosexuality “would sure shock Republicans.”


Volume 2 is planned to be released about two years from now and, at 775 pages, Kramer joked that’s how long it will take to read the first volume.


“It became more and more important to tell our history. That’s why I won’t go to see [the Broadway play] Hamilton. It’s a lie. Alexander Hamilton was very much a gay man. So much of our history is gay. We have to claim that. That’s something to be proud of.”


On activism, Kramer said it wasn’t some grand sweeping vision or an abstract fight for equal rights that got him engaged. The match which lit his fuse was much closer to home. “It was the death of so many friends [because of AIDS] that kicked me in the ass.”


But no matter the cause, Kramer told the crowd that anyone can be an activist. “I don’t think I’ve done anything anyone of you couldn’t do. I’m a writer and I started to write. It’s not rocket science.”


Larry Elwyn, a gay man who lived in San Francisco at the height of the AIDS epidemic, said he’s known of Kramer since back when “everyone knew him as an asshole.” But it was an asshole and a fighter, said Elwyn, that the gay community needed to gain the attention it needed and deserved to fight AIDS. “I had friends who were dropping like flies. They were dropping faster than you could say their names.”


During the rest of his trip to South Florida, Kramer will attend “An Evening with Larry Kramer,” also presented by the museum, on Friday, March 10 at 8 p.m. at Sunshine Cathedral in Fort Lauderdale. Kramer will discuss HIV/AIDS and the history of the LGBTQ community over the last 35 years with Kevin Sessums, past contributing editor to Vanity Fair and author of “Mississippi Sissy.” Tickets are $25. Tickets can be purchased at WorldAIDSMuseum.com.


On Saturday, March 11 from 12 to 5 p.m. at ArtServe in Fort Lauderdale, the “POZ Millennials Symposium” will be held. The World AIDS Museum and Stonewall Museum & Archives will co-sponsor the event, a panel of influential people involved in AIDS crisis activism during the past 30 years. The event is free. Both events are open to the public.


Related: Larry Kramer Coming to the World AIDS Museum

http://southfloridagaynews.com/Local/larry-kramer-coming-to-the-world-aids-museum.html


Related: SFGN Interviews Larry Kramer

http://southfloridagaynews.com/kramer


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