Award-winning author and gay-rights activist Larry Kramer’s new book aims to counter the exclusion of homosexuality from history.
Gay-rights activist and award-winning author Larry Kramer is 79 and in failing health, but that won’t defuse the impact of his latest bombshell project: the first 800-page instalment of a two-part history of America that tells of the secret gay life of figures from Alexander Hamilton, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln to Mark Twain, Herman Melville and Richard Nixon.
The American People: Volume 1, subtitled Search for My Heart, has taken nearly 40 years to complete and may prove to be one of the most provocative historical, or pseudo-historical, accounts of American history.
Kramer, who is co-founder of Aids services group Gay Men’s Health Crisis and the Aids Coalition to Unleash Power (Act Up), as well as a chronicler of queer life with plays including The Normal Heart and The Destiny of Me, said the book is a labour of love designed to counter what he feels to be the exclusion of gays – or gay life – from history books.
Abraham Lincoln and Richard Nixon.
“It may look like fiction, but to me, it’s not,” Kramer said last week. “Most histories have been written by straight people. There has never been any history book written where the gay people have been in the history from the beginning.It’s ridiculous to think we haven’t been here for ever.” http://goo.gl/XYHHxI
Controversial writer and activist Larry Kramer (born 1935), is known primarily for his criticism of political figures, media, and medical organizations for their poor response to the AIDS epidemic. Through his writing and speaking he has stirred controversy within the gay community, by chastising those who proclaim a right to promiscuity as irresponsible and ultimately self-defeating. Both supporters and detractors are likely to agree that Kramer is a colorful, forceful and strong-willed voice in American culture.
The son of a Bridgeport attorney, George L. Kramer, and his wife, Rea Wishengrad Kramer, a social worker, Larry entered Yale in 1953 and was plagued by health problems including a persistent cough that soon landed him in the infirmary. Before his first semester ended, Kramer had attempted suicide, perhaps gleaning what his sexual orientation was and being terrified by the prospect. When one of his professors seduced him, a new world opened to the unhappy youth, who then was able to settle into his studies and complete his undergraduate degree at Yale.
Upon graduation, Kramer entered the United States Army for one year, after which he joined a training program with the William Morris Agency, often a step that led talented young people into pursuits in film or theater. This program helped land Kramer at Columbia Pictures in 1958. By 1960, he had become an assistant story editor in New York City for that corporation. He was promoted and transferred to London as a production executive, where he served from 1961 until 1965. In 1965, he became an assistant to the president of the United Artists Film Company.
His career as screenwriter and producer proceeded with his production of Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush in 1967 and his celebrated screenplay of D. H. Lawrence’s Women in Love, a controversial film that received considerable attention and several awards. Kramer’s screenwriting continued until the publication of his novel Faggots in 1978 brought him to the attention of the homosexual community nationally. He then devoted himself to working with the problems of gays and lesbians in contemporary American society.
This concern broadened and deepened in the years following 1981, when AIDS began to cast its long and intimidating shadow over gay enclaves across the nation. With AIDS emerging as a national threat, Kramer was outraged at public and governmental indifference to the illness, which was at that time viewed as a gay disease unworthy…