For Larry Kramer

by Hank Trout

Larry Kramer speaking at a Boston Gay Town Meeting 6.9.87 at historic Faneuil Hall in Boston MA sponsored by the Boston Lesbian and Gay Political Alliance.

A plague!
It’s a plague!
Forty million infections is a fucking plague

Larry gripped the podium like a life raft
He leaned toward the microphone
His deeply set eyes flashing in anger
His lips down-turned in snarling disgust
His eyes scanning the room for comrades
Or for enemies

J’accuse! he yelled, J’accuse!

He called us Faggots
Drug-drenched callous sex-crazed faggots
Flitting from Manhattan to Fire Island and back
At the drop of a pair of pants
Thinking with our cocks
At the baths, in the bushes, on the piers, at the Anvil
No better than heartless rutting pigs
Straights didn’t believe him, gays hated him
Because we believed him
You know what my real crime was?
I put the truth in writing

 He wanted us to be better, so he told us the truth
The truth did not set us free
The truth did not make us better

We started getting sick

We started dying
1,112 and Counting he told us in 1983
And his rage flared hotter than a brushfire
The flames engulfing everything in his sight
He spewed his righteous venom on President Reagan
He accused Mayor Koch of murder
He rained hellfire on the CDC and Dr. Fauci
He damned Senator Daniel Moynihan for inaction
He excoriated The Advocate and the rest of the gay press
He poured buckets of bile on his own community
I am sick of closeted gay doctors who won’t come out to help us fight
I am sick of gay men who won’t support gay charities
I am sick of closeted gays
I am sick of everyone in this community who tells me to stop creating a panic
I am sick of guys who think that all being gay means is sex
And I am very sick and saddened by every gay man
who does not get behind this issue totally and with commitment—
to fight for his life

For forty years Larry led our fight
With five others he founded GMHC
Gay Men’s Health Crisis
To educate, support, sustain New Yorkers living with AIDS
To lobby city and state legislatures for action
To fight like hell for the right to live

When Larry’s fiery rage scorched the mainstream gays at GMHC
They expelled him from their club
He cried, he sulked, he hurt, and then
He fought back harder with like-willed men
They birthed the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power
And taught us how to ACT UP
We stormed the FDA demanding access to medicine
We marched, we yelled, we sat-in and died-in
We spread the ashes of our dead on the White House lawn
We covered Jesse Helms’ house with a condom
We learned more about HIV/AIDS than the doctors treating us
We got stronger, louder, angrier, prouder

Those of us whose lives he saved
Revere Larry as a savior
A beautiful, loud, flawed, necessary savior

I don’t want to die, he told us
I can only assume you don’t want to die.
Can we fight together?

Yes, Larry, we fight together
We march, we rage, we disobey civilly,
We write, we sing, we play, we ride
We have learned to love each other and ourselves
Enough to take care of each other.

We fight
For Larry
For life

—Hank Trout


Hank wrote this tribute to Larry Kramer as a fundraiser for TogetheRide (formerly AIDS/ LifeCycle), benefitting the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the AIDS Project Los Angeles. If you would like to donate, please go to http://www.tofighthiv.org/goto/HankTrout