Larry Kramer, the pioneering AIDS activist and playwright best known for his autobiographical play about the early days of the epidemic in New York City, died Wednesday from pneumonia at age 84, his husband confirmed. Kramer, an Oscar-nominated screenwriter who wrote the play The Normal Heart, co-founded the nonprofit Gay Men’s Health Crisis in 1981 with the intention to “end the AIDS epidemic and uplift the lives of all affected.” Kramer’s 1978 novel Faggots received backlash from members of the gay community for what was regarded as a controversial portrayal of the New York gay scene. “You know what my real crime was? I put the truth in writing,” Kramer told The New Yorker in 2002. “That’s what I do: I have told the fucking truth to everyone I have ever met.”
Kramer, a fierce advocate for public health and activist for gay rights, sounded the alarm about the spread of the deadly AIDS virus, which brought him head to head with Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease expert who spearheaded research efforts during that epidemic at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Kramer, who had HIV, underwent a liver transplant in 2001. In March, he told The Daily Beast about his close friendship with Fauci and how they had been in touch during the COVID-19 pandemic and how happy he was that the doctor was in charge of the NIH’s response from the start this time. “Thank God,” Kramer said.