Larry Kramer to Receive special Tony Award June 9th, in New York

Larry Kramer is a playwright, author, public health advocate, and LGBT rights activist.  Kramer introduced a controversial and confrontational style in his 1978 novel Faggots, which earned mixed reviews but emphatic denunciations from the gay community for his portrayal of shallow, promiscuous gay relationships in the 1970s.

Kramer witnessed the spread of the disease that became known as Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) among his friends in 1980, and co-founded the Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC), which has become the largest private organization to assist people living with AIDS in the world. Not content with the social services GMHC provided, Kramer expressed his frustration with bureaucratic paralysis and the apathy of gay men to the AIDS crisis by writing a play titled The Normal Heart which was produced at The Public Theater in New York City in 1985. His political activism extended to the founding of the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP) in 1987, a direct action protest organization widely credited with changing public health policy and widespread perception of people living with AIDS (PWAs) and awareness of HIV and AIDS-related diseases. He was such an important part of our gay history and is now being recognized for his amazing contributions. 

 Kramer will receive this year’s
Isabelle Stevenson Award, a non-competitive Tony award given to an
individual from the theater community who has made a substantial
contribution on behalf of humanitarian, social service or charitable
organizations.

“Writers who are activists are very rarely taken seriously as
artists,” Kramer said in an interview. “I look upon this recognition as
acknowledgment that a serious writer can also be a serious activist, and
no less an artist for it.”

Kramer, who will turn 78 years old in June, won a 2011 Tony Award for Best Revival of a Play, for the revival of “The Normal Heart” on Broadway, which starred Joe Mantello, Ellen Barkin and John Benjamin Hickey.

Kramer also wrote the screenplay for a coming HBO film based on the
play, which will be directed by Ryan Murphy (“Glee”) and star Mark
Ruffalo as Ned Weeks, the young activist at the center of the story.

“We are so excited about it,” Kramer said of the film, which begins
shooting in New York in June. “It’s much bigger than the play. It’s the
same basic plot but one is able to open it up and show much more about
AIDS and also explore the character of the doctor [which will be played
by Julia Roberts] which I wanted to do in the play, but it didn’t work.” –  Barbra Streisand wanted to make to film and had bought the rights  – but she  struggled with Kramer for over 15 years, then gave the rights back to him. 

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