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Elton John, Julia Roberts and Mark Ruffalo lead celebrity tributes to courageous AIDS activist Larry Kramer

Emma Powys Maurice May 28, 2020
Larry Kramer at Village Voice AIDS conference on June 6, 1987 in New York City, New York

Larry Kramer at Village Voice AIDS conference on June 6, 1987 in New York City. (Catherine McGann/Getty)

Elton John and Julia Roberts are among the many Hollywood heavyweights leading tributes to the legendary AIDS activist Larry Kramer, who has sadly died aged 84.

The celebrated writer and former LGBT+ campaigner, who founded both Gay Men’s Health Crisis and ACT UP during the AIDS crisis, passed away from pneumonia on Wednesday.

Known for his often aggressive and abrasive style, Kramer was one of the loudest voices of protest, rallying the gay community at a time when the crisis was being ignored under the Reagan administration.

“We have lost a giant of a man who stood up for gay rights like a warrior,” wrote Elton John on Instagram. “His anger was needed at a time when gay men’s deaths to AIDS were being ignored by the American government: a tragedy that made the Gay Men’s Health Crisis and ACT UP movements so vital.

“He never stopped shouting about the injustices against us. His voice was the loudest and the most effective. Larry Kramer captured the outrage and spirit of these turbulent times in his brilliant play The Normal Heart along with his many other writings. I was proud to know him and his legacy must be maintained.”

Larry Kramer play The Normal Heart inspired millions.

Kramer’s largely autobiographical play The Normal Heart on the rise of the AIDS crisis was one of his most celebrated works. Its popular 2014 film adaptation starred Julia Roberts, Mark Ruffalo and Matt Bomer, who have all shared their grief at his passing.

“He was ferocious and tireless in his beliefs. A true hero that so many people owe their lives to today,” Roberts told Variety. “I was honoured to spend time in his orbit.”

Bomer called Kramer “a trailblazer and one of the most courageous people I have ever known”, and said that he and countless others owe him their lives.

“Without his tireless advocacy and his outspokenness and opposition to everything that was going on and encouraging people to educate themselves and be responsible for themselves, I, growing up in a semi-rural environment, wouldn’t have had any clue about the epidemic if it weren’t for him,” he said.

Throughout his life Kramer touched a great many lives on the Broadway circuit, and his legacy was recognised by his contemporaries and those who followed in his wake.

“Don’t know a soul who saw or read The Normal Heart and came away unmoved, unchanged,” wrote Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda. “What an extraordinary writer, what a life. Thank you, Larry Kramer.”

“A man who never let comfort get in the way of progress,” tweeted Dear Evan Hansen and Smash composer Benj Pasek.

Further tributes came from Chelsea Clinton, Andy Cohen, Rob Reiner, Mia Farrow, Tim Cook, Janet Mock, Billy Eichner, Ellen Barkin, Raúl E. Esparza, The Screen Actor’s Guild and the Tony Awards.

Fellow LGBT+ advocate and author Dan Savage wrote succinctly: “Larry Kramer valued every gay life at a time when so many gay men had been rendered incapable of valuing our own lives. He ordered us to love ourselves and each other and to fight for our lives.

“He was a hero.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More: aids crisis, Broadway, Elton John, HIV/AIDS, Hollywood, Larry Kramer, obituary, the normal heart

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