Larry Kramer, the cantankerous playwright, author and LGBTQ/AIDS activist, is angry.
Well, that’s not news. Now, he’s angry and “terrified.”
“With the new president, I’m terrified of just about everything,” says Kramer, 81, who will make personal appearances Thursday in Wilton Manors and Friday, March 10, in Fort Lauderdale.
“We have to fight the same fights all over again which we started fighting in 1981, when HIV was first appearing,” the New Yorker says. “The Congress is going to screw us left, right and center — with everything they can take away. … The rights that we have won are in jeopardy, including marriage, Obamacare and AIDS research.”
“It’s a mess, and it’s very depressing,” said Kramer, who wrote the novel “Faggots” and the play “The Normal Heart,” co-founded Gay Men’s Health Crisis in New York City, and began ACT UP, the direct-action LGBTQ group formed in the late 1980s at the height of the nation’s AIDS crisis.
Kramer finds the election of President Donald Trump “very depressing, very sad.”
“All these people he’s appointing to various Cabinet positions — they hate gay people. I don’t mean dislike. I mean hate.”
He says it’s time “to fight back in great numbers.”
“You’ve got to be verbal and obnoxious and let them know we’re here, and what we’re entitled to as American citizens,” said Kramer, who is old and frail but certainly not down and out.
“No matter how many of us are out there screaming and yelling, it’s not enough,” he says. “The Women’s March On Washington was huge and very effective. We have to be able to duplicate those kinds of protests around the country. It’s important that the world sees how many of us there are and how angry we can be.”
Kramer wrote “The Normal Heart” in 1985, three years before he himself learned of his HIV-positive status. The play, which won several Tony Awards for a 2011 revival on Broadway, also became a hugely successful 2014 HBO film directed by Ryan Murphy and starring Mark Ruffalo, Julia Roberts, Matt Bomer and Jim Parsons.
“ ‘The Normal Heart’ — it had unbelievably big ratings for HBO,” Kramer says. “The two biggest hits on HBO that year: ‘The Normal Heart’ and that Liberace story.”
In Wilton Manors, Kramer plans to sell and sign copies of his 2015 novel “The American People: Volume 1: Search For My Heart.”
“One of the points of ‘Volume 1, The American People’ is that we don’t know our gay history from the beginning,” Kramer says. “We’ve been here since the beginning of time. We’ve had many famous people who were gay, and this is not taught anywhere in the schools. … If I were younger, my next big fight would be getting this taught in schools. Gay history is taught in some schools, but not about famous gay people because academics have not done the work.”
Kramer has said he believes George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Alexander Hamilton all were either gay or bisexual.
“How do I know? I’ve done my research! I have my gaydar! And I have my opinion about Alexander Hamilton,” says Kramer, who is angry Lin-Manuel Miranda didn’t explore Hamilton’s presumed homosexuality in his hit Broadway musical.
Says Kramer: “A straight man comes along and doesn’t see things a gay man sees.”
The irascible writer looks forward to spreading his message in South Florida, ground zero in today’s fight against new HIV infections.
“Florida politically is a state that is hard to understand. You have this terrible massacre in Orlando and this great outpouring of sympathy — and that seems to have evaporated with the elected officials,” Kramer says. “And the plague gets worse. The AIDS plague. They refuse to call it a plague when it is a plague.”
He doesn’t mind being known as an angry activist, but Kramer fears the public will forget he is also an accomplished writer.
“I like to consider myself angry and a successful activist,” says Kramer, who wrote the Oscar-nominated screenplay for Ken Russell’s 1969 hit film “Women in Love.”
“I also like to consider myself a good author,” Kramer says. “I have a very important book called ‘The American People,’ and it wasn’t taken seriously by literary critics because they say, ‘Hey, he’s a loudmouth.’”
If you go
What: An Evening With Larry Kramer, interviewed by writer Kevin Sessums
Where: Sunshine Cathedral, 1480 SW Ninth Ave., Fort Lauderdale
When: 8 p.m. Friday, March 10
Tickets: $25 each. Purchase at worldaidsmuseum.org.
Kramer will also attend a free book-signing from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday at The World AIDS Museum, 1201 NE 26th St. Suite 111, Wilton Manors.