Thursday, May 28, 2020

Larry Kramer Passed Away

Larry Kramer has passed away. He was the original driving force behind ActUp!, and brought the world's attention to AIDS.

He was living in New York as his friends began dying of AIDS and the world didn't talk about it. Or, when they did, it was discussed as the gay curse or hidden.

Living in Los Angeles, we had our own ways to fight and publicize the deaths, but forcing people to be aware was critical. Gay men, particularly white gay men, can easily blend into the background - it is a privilege that other minorities do not have. But int he AIDS crisis it was a curse.

You see lots of people ignored it. When young men died, particularly back east, family didn't tell people it was AIDS - so it was easily ignored. It was silent in the fact that embarrassed parents, aunts and grandparents held secret. ActUp! fought that stigma. Larry Kramer spearheaded the groups that refused to die quietly.

What it took to change AIDS and LGBT rights was tangentially good people doing good things. But primarily, it was friends, then parents and grandparents who refused to ignore death and destruction. My friends were out and everyone's parents knew, but we didn't talk about it - until AIDS.

When my parent Mark died, I told my grandmother and she took it to her Bible Study group in Orange County.  After discussing it for a while, the Bible Study group told Zela that Mark's death was like any other spouse's death. Suddenly you have 10 women in a conservative Christian Bible Study group advocating for people. Not gays or fags or queers, but people - sons, grandsons, partners and friends.

And once people admit the deaths, they have to admit to the lives. That is when LGBT rights grew. When we, the Larry Kramers, the Gavins, the Bible Study groups, the friends, demanded that family members wouldn't die in silence or hiding.

I have more I could say, but I shall, for a change remain a bit silent here. I leave you with a picture of friends. These are the 4 Marks. The two blonds are both dead. My partner Mark was on the far right. The far left is our friend Mark G, who has lived with HIV for a long time .... decades. And, if the Larry Kramer's of the world were NOT loud, did NOT demand action, all four would be dead and, worse, forgotten.

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