Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Larry Kramer Says AIDS Is 'Worse Than Ever'

Larry Kramer is circulating a "renewed call to arms." But rather than making me want to put my activist boots back on, it has me wondering if at 84 the legendary writer and AIDS activist isn't beginning to suffer from dementia. He writes:


I think we are in a terrible place.

I think AIDS is worse than ever, we are told otherwise, and no one is facing the reality of this situation. I think gay people are being made victims by our entire government from the president on down through the entire political system.

The state of both gay and AIDS activism -- fighting back -- is in the toilet.

The organizations we have started and funded (with only a few exceptions like Broadway Cares and Lambda Legal) are weak and bordering on the useless.

All parts of the gay population‘s main activity is squabbling with each other. We are totally not united on anything.

The sex lives of gay men, with the arrival and availability of second-rate medicines, is rapidly returning to the behaviors that got us into trouble in the first place. Unprotected sex, sex parties, back rooms, on line searches for sex partners, have led to record-high numbers of all infectious diseases.

Meth has returned as a drug of choice, leading to addictions.

Long-term survivors of AIDS are treated like outcasts.

Gays seem incapable of angrily responding to any example of homophobia. We allow people in power to say hateful things about us. Few are the politicians who will fight out loud for us, particularly at this election time.

I do not see our bodies on the streets protesting in unison against every attack on us.

Please distribute this message to everyone you can.

Larry Kramer

My response:

--No, AIDS is not worse than ever. Earlier this month, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo declared that New York, once the epicenter of the epidemic, is on track to meet its goal to end the AIDS epidemic in the state by 2020. Did you forget you wrote the seminal play "The Normal Heart" in which everyone dies, which was based on real life?

--Protease inhibitors, pre-exposure prophylaxis and post-exposure prophylaxis are not second-rate drugs. They’re lifesavers and they’re preventing a new generation from going through the horrors ours did.

--Long-term survivors are beloved and more visible than ever. People are writing bestselling memoirs about living with HIV.

--PrEP is what we've been fighting for. Sex negativity was quasi-understandable when we didn't even know what was killing us. But now it smacks of just shaming people for the sake of shaming.

--LGBTQ people are fighting the Trump administration every step of the way

--Are you OK? Your brand of outrage helped get us where we are today. It’s time to take yes for an answer. 


JimmyD said...

Maybe it's because that is what defined him. Put him in the spotlight.
I haven't really heard his name in years.
Maybe he needs attention. He feels invisible. Neglected. Alone.
He has only one song. It was a hit... 30 years ago.
Who can say?

Unknown said...

There's a lot of truth in what Larry says. We have become complacent, when we should be giving it back to homophobes. Our "new" attitude is partly why we have Donald Trump as POTUS.

Dov said...

IMHO Larry Kramer is out of touch. And I think you might be correct about his mental state.

Lawrence Pfeil, Jr. said...

With all due respect, I see where you both are coming from, but perhaps we're in fact somewhere in the middle.

No, AIDS is not worse than ever and protease inhibitors, pre-exposure prophylaxis and post-exposure prophylaxis are not second-rate drugs.

But they are neither the cure nor vaccine we have been fighting for since the beginning.

They have saved countless lives, but have also precipitated a return to unprotected sex which has caused a dramatic spike in STI infections.

Given our Community's obsession with youth and looks, long term survivors, like most LGBTQs over a certain age, are all but invisible to anyone but those like themselves. This isn't my opinion but those shared by LTS I know personally, some of whom were on the frontlines with Larry Kramer.

Sadly it seems like our Community is more concerned with fighting each other about "identity politics" and questioning whether the first openly gay, married man running for POTUS (currently polling 4th) is "the wrong kind of gay." Seriously? We've become so focused on individual agendas, we've lost the unity of common purpose, our Community.

Our greatest threat isn't from the internal issues facing us in next fifty years, but the external threats to our Life, Liberty and Pursuit of Happiness from those in power and the religious right controlling them. Those forces cannot be fought on cell phones with social media. Phony accounts, unchecked propaganda, and bots will always outnumber us.

Visibility was ACTUP's greatest weapon. We need to start fighting again in person as a Community.

jaragon said...

I agree with Lawrence