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Gay writer Larry Kramer wants more people to write about gay history for an important reason

Patrick Kelleher January 17, 2020
Larry Kramer

Larry Kramer (Slaven Vlasic/Getty)

Legendary gay writer Larry Kramer has said he wants more authors to consider writing about gay history, claiming that most respected historians are straight.

“They wouldn’t know a gay person if they took him to lunch,” Kramer told The New York Times.

“A good example is Ron Chernow’s biography of Hamilton, which doesn’t include the fact that he was both gay and in love with George Washington. Gore Vidal pointed this out to me,” he added.

Larry Kramer also touched on the controversy generated by his early works, including his novel Faggots.

The 84-year-old playwright, author and AIDS activist also touched on his own writing career, noting that he has sometimes gotten into trouble for his work.

“Gay writers writing about other gays is not exactly a winning audience. And gays are not the best buyers or readers of their own,” he said.

They wouldn’t know a gay person if they took him to lunch.

He referenced his 1979 novel Faggots, which is a satirical portrayal of New York’s gay community, noting that he modelled one of the leading characters on his best friend.

“He never spoke to me again after the book came out,” he said.

In addition to Faggots, Kramer famously wrote The Normal Heart, a largely autobiographical play focusing on the HIV/AIDS epidemic in 1980s New York. He later co-founded the AIDS charity Gay Men’s Health Crisis.

Kramer attracted controversy over his views on PrEP in 2014.

Kramer is a highly respected LGBT+ writer and activist, but he attracted some criticism in 2014 when he revealed that he was against the rollout of HIV-preventing drug PrEP.

“There’s something to me cowardly about taking Truvada instead of using a condom,” Kramer said at the time.

“You’re taking a drug that is poison to you, and it has lessened your energy to fight, to get involved, to do anything.”

However, the following year, AIDS campaigners and activists including Kramer met, and Peter Staley of the Treatment Action Group said they had reached a place of unity on the issue.

According to Out, Staley wrote: “We – AIDS activists, new and old, aged 24 to 80 – have just broken bread in the same apartment where GMHC was formed, coming together for a lively discussion on how to reduce HIV infections among gay men and trans women.

“Although we may not see eye-to-eye on every issue we debated tonight, we all agree that Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) is highly effective at protecting a person from HIV infection.

“While PrEP isn’t for everyone, any individual who thinks they are at risk of getting HIV should have easy access to it, without judgement.”

 

More: faggots, gay history, History, HIV, Larry Kramer, the normal heart

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