In 1970, Larry Kramer’s screenplay Women in Love received an Academy Award nomination and a British Film Academy nomination for the best screenplay of the year. His drama The Normal Heart was awarded the Dramatists Guild Marton Award, the City Lights Award, and the Sarah Siddons Award for the best play of 1986 and was also nominated for the Olivier Award. In the same year, Kramer was named Man of the Year by Aid for AIDS of Los Angeles. The following year, the Human Rights Campaign Fund honored him with its Arts and Communication Award.
No voice in the gay community has been more strident and effective than Kramer’s in drawing attention to the plight of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) victims and to governmental indifference regarding their problems in the early years of the epidemic, the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. Drug companies were not forthcoming with medications to treat the disease, and the Ronald Reagan administration cast a blind eye on what was fast becoming a national health crisis.
In 1981, Kramer cofounded the Gay Men’s Health Crisis, and six years later, in 1987, established the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP). The following year, he tested positive for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the precursor of AIDS and has been battling that condition ever since.
As an activist in gay organizations, Kramer was among those who “outed” New York City mayor Ed Koch and others activists deemed hypocritical. Some of these activities offended mainstream Americans, but Kramer’s writing, particularly his two most effective plays, The Normal Heart and its sequel, The Destiny of Me, reached broad heterosexual audiences. The former holds the record for the longest run at the Public Theatre of New York City’s Shakespeare Festival and has been produced more than six hundred times in the United States and abroad.