The LA Review of Books has an extensive interview with Larry Kramer, legendary AIDS activist, playwright, and novelist. Kramer discusses activist strategies, his new 800-page novel on the history of homophobia in America, and a renewed complacency about AIDS in the US. Here’s an excerpt:
What do you think of LGBT Americans’ political successes and greater visibility?
I think the Bruce Jenner thing, Caitlyn, has been fantastic, very moving and very useful. We’re more visible and accepted. But that should encourage us to create rather than relax. I’m asking everybody: What do we do? Because those of us who are dealing with the AIDS problem are well aware of what we still lack in the way of power.
When you talk about the power that will accrue to LGBT America, what do you mean? Political power? Cultural power?
Yes, all these corporations where gays have made themselves known, have come out in support of antidiscrimination. That’s a lot of power, and power that Republicans have to respect. How can we extend that role?
We simply must have a better, stronger presence in Washington. I posited in one of my articles that we need more lobbyists, but how do we get more lobbyists? I said that if every city in America took responsibility for raising one lobbyist’s salary — either through an annual ball or party as HRC [the Human Rights Campaign] does — that way you could have 25, 50 lobbyists for antidiscrimination, for AIDS research, running faster. But I haven’t had any response to that.
The NGLTF [National LGBTQ Task Force] has never been an organization that made any sense to me. When Ginny [Virginia Apuzzo, executive director 1982–’86] ran it, well Ginny was incomparable. But where are the other Ginnys? Where are the other Larrys? I’m 80 years old and I don’t see anybody else.
I have to say that I think the [lobbying group] Human Rights Campaign is just abysmally shocking in its failures. And if that’s the best we have in Washington representing us, we’re in big trouble. They’ve been useless on AIDS all along. They’re ass-kissers; they’re not fighters.
And one thing I learned, we learned at ACT UP, is that you only get heard when you make a lot of noise. Otherwise they don’t hear you.
Image of Larry Kramer via Huffington Post