AIDS/HIV | Kevin Sessums | Larry Kramer | News | Rupert Everett

Larry Kramer Slams Gay Orgs: 'Lazy, Torpid, Unimaginative, Useless'

In a follow-up to his interview with actor Rupert Everett, in which Everett spewed a vitriolic rant about gays who want to be surrogate parents ("It is utterly hideous. I think it’s egocentric and vain.") and get married, Kevin Sessums talks to AIDS activist Peter Staley, comedienne Kate Clinton, and longtime activist and playwright Larry Kramer on those topics.

Here's part of Kramer's reaction on marriage and the state of the LGBT movement:

Kramer “I don’t think we are going to win anything federal—which is really the only important place where it counts—until a few of these Supreme Court justices expire (including that homophobe Anthony Scalia) and Obama replaces them with people sympathetic to our side. This, of course, is by no means a sure thing. I have high hopes for Obama, but I do not feel all warm and fuzzy that he is going to be enough of a friend when push comes to shove. I hope I am wrong. I have never believed in patience, but I do not see that we have either the leaders or the troops enough—a la ACT UP—to go out there and fight. We continue to be a passive population. It drives me nuts. It has always driven me nuts. I do not think the gay population has been all that rabid for gay marriage. Note that I do not use the words ‘gay community.’ Expunge that expression from your vocabulary. We are not a community. There are too many of us to qualify for that word, which connotes something much smaller and more intimate than the huge multipeopled grab bag of our rainbow coalition...

"The work, as it was done for AIDS, has been done by relatively few warriors. And we are losing sight of the HIV/AIDS battle. What is not being done about HIV/AIDS in the United States is shocking. It is more than shocking. It is tragic. Three percent of the entire population of Washington, D.C., is infected. One in ten of its residents between the ages of 40 and 49 is infected. Seven percent of its male African-American population is infected. Gay politics? What gay politics? I don’t see any gay politics. I see a few lazy, torpid, unimaginative—certainly passionless—‘organizations’ that maintain they fight for us when what they do is relatively useless. It has never been otherwise. I am afraid we have never ever had a decent gay organization, outside of ACT UP, that accomplished what we need to accomplish—which is to free ourselves from the tyranny of THEM!”

'Awful Middle-Class Queens' [the daily beast]

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  1. I have a hard time taking someone seriously when they're wearing a Mario costume.

    Posted by: Pender | Apr 10, 2009 10:25:40 AM

  2. Jews represent what percent of the us population - 3% - anyone that wants to get into office needs to be pro-israel. Gays represent what percent of the us populations - 10% - and we are so disorganized we can't get anything done.

    Kramer claims act up was so successful, at what - maybe theatre.

    Further - I love what Everett had to say. DONT ASSIMILATE!

    Posted by: fred | Apr 10, 2009 10:31:33 AM

  3. I read that whole thing twice trying to find the part where he slams gay orgies.

    I really must learn to read the headlines more carefully.

    Posted by: crispy | Apr 10, 2009 10:33:24 AM

  4. Larry is 74 years-old and a Pulitzer Prize winner. He can wear whatever the fuck he wants, Pender.

    Posted by: FizziekruntNT | Apr 10, 2009 10:36:26 AM

  5. Larry Kramer is the latest in a long line of activists who can't imagine any generation is capable of advocating as well as he and his did. How boring.

    There has been massive, undeniable and serious progress for "the gay population" in the years since ACT UP folded. It has come from engagement in politics and the electoral process, not from screaming at people.

    Posted by: DCposter | Apr 10, 2009 10:38:44 AM

  6. FRED,

    I think Kinsey's 10% referes to people who've are having or have had homosexual sex. It may not apply to people who identify socially/politically/culturally as "gay". In other words, probably many more homosexuals than gays in the world.

    Also, Jewish people stick together--even when they don't like each other (something gays and blacks can't seem to do).

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Apr 10, 2009 10:41:10 AM

  7. "refers to people who are having or have had...."

    Lord, are those just typos or early senility? And I only had a little Vodka in my orange juice this morning--imagine my communication skills by about 7:00pm.

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Apr 10, 2009 10:47:44 AM

  8. Respect your fuckin elders.

    REMEBER without Kramer and his like you wouldn't have what little freedom or rights that you have now.

    I totally agree with him.

    "I see a few lazy, torpid, unimaginative—certainly passionless—‘organizations’ that maintain they fight for us when what they do is relatively useless"

    Their generationa had more passion, commitment, strength and bravery than the new one does and acomplished more in 10 years under greater odds, hate, and harassment than yours have in 25.

    Posted by: Jeff | Apr 10, 2009 10:50:28 AM

  9. Scream at Larry all you want, but it was Larry Kramer and ACT UP's "theatre" that forced politicians and the American people to finally stop ignoring the utter brutality and homophobia that was rampant during the early years of the AIDS epidemic. I remember those years all too well. And he's right, there are a small amount of activists that are doing a lion's share of the work on LGBT issues. WE ALL NEED TO BECOME MORE INVOLVED!

    Posted by: Wayne | Apr 10, 2009 10:52:14 AM

  10. Kramer is a smart man and he's absolutely right. Self serving organizations that say they'll work for us but end up working for and making money and playing politics are bullshit and need to be dismantled.

    I guess until they start legally killing us will the "fashionistas" and those worried more about fuckin' and partying start to take notice.

    We are slowly being put into slavery and every politician, including Obama, is promising everything and delivering NOTHING.

    Stand up now or be mowed down later.

    Posted by: Bobby | Apr 10, 2009 11:05:08 AM

  11. He's right. what the hell has the HRC done for us lately? Joe S. can't even do a soundbite on CNN properly! Do we need to remind people of the disaster which was the "No on 8" campaign? For crying out loud, they couldn't even get a letter from Obama out and published! D'UH!

    I would love to see some of the major so-called "gay rights" groups do more than beg me for money. They need to go back to the ACTUP mindset of grassroots concept; right now, we're just ATM cards and bank accounts to them. That needs to stop NOW.

    Posted by: DR | Apr 10, 2009 11:11:57 AM

  12. Yeah, I agree that writing big checks to HRC is not the way to get change these days. But the answer is not ACT-UP style protests and stunts. The answer is getting involved with local politics and working with the system. We didn't win Vermont with chanting, we won it with a million conversations and phone calls, with campaign contributions and political pressure. The time for wearing tie-dye and chaining ourselves to doors is over; now it is time to wear suits and knock on doors during campaigns.

    To some people, this kind of effective engagement is "selling out." These people -- primarily, I've noticed, older gay people -- have been pushed to the margins of society for so long that they have convinced themselves that the margins of society is a good place to be. It's not; it's exile.

    And he's still wearing a Mario costume.

    Posted by: Pender | Apr 10, 2009 11:12:55 AM

  13. Derrick is correct that the most famous of the EXTREMELY complex "Kinsey studies," measured same-gender acts, not "identity" which Kinsey said was impossible to document because of all the differences in the way people define themselves generally and over periods of time in their lives.

    For the record [and quick before that Kinsey-hating loon clocks in again], the 10% figure applied only to [mostly white] males who were predominantly homosexual [in their choice of sex acts] between the ages of 16 and 55 [8% exlusively during that period & "4% of white males exclusively ...after the onset of adolescence up to the time of their interviews."

    "2 to 6% of females, aged 20-35, were more or less exclusively homosexual in experience/response" and "1 to 3% of unmarried females aged 20-35 were exclusively homosexual in experience/response."

    Our greatest weakness is that we rarely come from family units where the majority of other members are like us. THAT is the source of Jewish strength, however much individuals might ultimately believe differently from what they were taught.

    And, the closest to "massive" progress we've experienced is in attitudes, not laws. And, while thankful for it, we remain "bent" somehow to the majority of the population. See the thread about the inane "Esquire" article, and recall the plague of gay assaults, murders, and suicides we're still experiencing.

    Locally, an out gay politician is still as much "news" as a black one was 50 years ago, and federally we are represented by only three out people in Congress.

    Our only truly major specific successes have been the US Supreme Court's overturning of Colorado's antigay law and sodomy laws nationally, popular ballot votes in and state supreme court/legislature decisions in less than a dozen of FIFTY states.

    Functionally, it's still perfectly legal in the majority of states to fire someone for being gay, and the vast majority of states don't allow even "civil unions." And somewhere at this very minute, a gay man or woman is in the process of being kicked out of the military.

    Kramer is wrong that ACT UP has been the only group with any effect, but they DID revolutionize the way the government, medicine and pharmaceutical companies responded to AIDS. And, YES, that was, in large part, as ALL of our progress to some degree, EVEN in Vermont and Iowa, began with screaming and our legal progress has stalled in too many places because too many of us have stopped.

    Posted by: Leland Frances | Apr 10, 2009 11:29:33 AM

  14. Fred you dumb ass schmuck (spll chk)



    rights? Hell without Kramer founding ACT UP = more than half of the current gay population would be dead.

    Act up

    - promoted condoms in our community to prevent the spread of aids when nobody in our community used condoms

    - pushed politicians and drug companies to invest in aids research = the drugs we have now to help those who are positive.

    Remember when it first hit Reagan wouldn't acknowledge it and no drug company wanted to do any research

    our few rights = thanks to act up

    more than 1/2 of our community not dead= thanks to Act Up

    We all need to honor Kramer as we do Harvey Milk and our orgs need to get back to being like ACT UP as vs HRC cocktail party circuit celeb worship bs


    PS Fred

    what the fuck does the current US support for the RIGHT-LEANING gov regime in Israel have to do with this?

    The whole "support" for Israel (what i would refer to as the right leaning gov of Israel as vs a left leaning gov) isn't due to the power of the american jewish community but rather due to our xtianistas!!!!!!!

    The xtianistas throw more money at politicians and Israel's current gov than any combination of Jewish groups.

    Why? because they want war war war in the middle east to bring their jesus back. they want expansion of settlements to bring their jesus back though the majority in Israel consider the illegal settlers as just that = illegal and the cause of much trouble.

    Israeli media constantly interviews israeli millitary officials bitching about the troubles the settlers cause and the friction they generate with palestinians.

    The US current policies vis a vis Israel are pushed by our xtianistas more than american Jews.

    Posted by: jimmyboyo | Apr 10, 2009 11:37:45 AM

  15. PS

    while rupert was a rent boy snorting cocaine

    kramer was organizing protests against politcians, drug companies that weren't investing a dime in any drug research for us, and the catholic church

    rupert more a hero than kramer?

    Fred you seriously have your priorities mixed up.

    Posted by: jimmyboyo | Apr 10, 2009 11:53:56 AM

  16. Ha ha! Mario ! But Larry Kramer is probably just pissed off that Vermont and Iowa have pulled so far ahead of New York (because NYC gay activists are so fumbling and useless). Anyway, there's a protest at the Iraq embassy in NYC today. I wonder how many gays will even turn out for that one.

    Posted by: JT | Apr 10, 2009 11:58:54 AM

  17. Okay, my comment may have been too harsh. Larry Kramer is, of course, a hero. He is the reason many people my age are still alive today. He deserves to say whatever he wants.

    That doesn't make it true however. Social change starts in the streets, but it cannot stay there and it doesn't end there. It moves into the board rooms and legislatures where decisions are made.

    We have been extremely successful in the years since ACT UP closed up. Are we done? Hell no. But the pace is far quicker than just about any civil rights movement in U.S. history.

    2009 is not 1986, no matter how badly some of you wish it was.

    Posted by: DCposter | Apr 10, 2009 12:14:18 PM

  18. "expunge that expression from your vocabulary."

    yes! i'm in so total agreement with that statement because there is no "gay community" there's several million individuals who are drawn sexually to their own genders. But that does not a community make.

    Posted by: alguien | Apr 10, 2009 12:15:18 PM

  19. Derrick from Philly is so right again. Jews basically watch out for each other (totally understandable, given their history of being set upon by everybody else). I'm not AA so I don't know what their problem is, but I am gay and I know why gays don't stick together. I'm guilty of it myself. But I don't feel "guilty."

    Posted by: JT | Apr 10, 2009 12:23:17 PM

  20. Kramer is right. There is no community, and our diversity prevents any real unity. Then add to that our egos - my God - us gays have "the ego" (including myself so calm down). If 1/2 of the readers here were suddenly homeless and/or living on less than $8,000/year SPECIFICALLY due to discrimination, the RAGE would be palpable instead of closeted, and the "equality party" would suddenly be a fight for life or death.

    Here is what prevents us from attaining FEDERAL EQUALITY: An UN-Unified Front

    Posted by: John Bisceglia | Apr 10, 2009 12:26:26 PM

  21. Alguien : That's true about individuals, mostly. But there really are some gays out there who have a sort of "community." But those are the ones who really have nthing in their lives except "being gay." Gay is their political party, religion, AND ethnicity.

    Posted by: JT | Apr 10, 2009 12:27:54 PM

  22. DCposter

    You should read some Tolstoy

    Tolstoy had an interesting perspective on history.

    Nothing gets done in the board rooms and loby houses.

    In fact all of history is the masses of people in the streets. The board rooms and political houses generally hold such back and or get pushed aside to be replaced by someone representing the wishes of the people at the minimum extent that the masses are somewhat appeased and calm down a bit.

    Tolstoy on Napolean = the french people would have made anyone emperor. napolean was not special. It was the french people's desire for empire that pushed someone to the front who just happened to be napolean. He was carried on an inevitable wave of generated by the masses in the streets and anyone would have filled the role, it just happened to be napolean

    If Tolstoy had been around during hitler = hitler didn't do shit. It was the german people. The german people would have placed someone else, anyone else in hitler's place if there had been no hitler. The german people with dreams of empire, ultra nationalism, and anti-semitism would have pushed someone else to the forefront to do the same exact shit if their had been no hitler. this view condemns the german people more for the actions of the nazis than the current paradigm of them being seduced by hitler

    Both examples were on the bad end of history but you should get the point. ALL movement of history/ change is in/ on the streets. The board rooms and political houses (even the most liberal) only hold back the inevitable till the pressure/ movement of the masses becomes too great and washes them away in an overwhelming wave.

    lets look at a recent not bad thing. Obama! tolstoy's view on history points out that obama did nothing / was not/ is not unique (not discounting his overwhelming intelligence and charisma). The masses would have pushed someone to the position Obama took as the anti-bush and yes in many cases the anti-clinton. The masses would have pushed a minority because brown skin is not the minority any more when taken as a whole (latino, black, tanish asian, etcas vs caucasian numbers in the US). Obama became the change/ movment of the people, but if he had not existed then the masses would have pushed forward a minority male of high intelligence and charisma to fill the spot anyway. It was inevitable and had to do with the masses in the street and nothing with the board rooms etc.

    This perspective on history shines a bright light on ACT UP and Act Up's ACTIONS in the streets while casting a shadow of uselessness on HRC , board rooms, politcal houses, etc.

    Posted by: jimmyboyo | Apr 10, 2009 12:36:24 PM

  23. Gee, I thought I saw news articles on massive rallies around California after Prop 8 passed. Was I mistaken?? His mindset is totally top-down even when all progress has been bottom-up. Totally smug and self-satisfied of the "you'll never be as good as me!!" type. I should spank the kid.

    Posted by: anon | Apr 10, 2009 12:38:53 PM


    1. Do we enable our oppressors MORE when we allow them to organize elections against our family? Submission to the Abuser? Did we ENABLE more legal hate?

    2. Should we refer to "winning" rights, or "crossing our fingers"...when it comes to our family's own safety and security?

    3. Is there DIGNITY when you pay taxes to a government that singles out your family as inferior, esp. in times of death and disease?

    4. Did placing our family's safety and security on a ballot trivialize our family, making the PROP 8 DEBACLE feel more like winning or losing a lottery INSTEAD of threatening our very loved ones?

    5. Should we jettison words like "protest" and "demand", and instead start ACTING EQUAL, and REVOLT when treated differently?

    6. Go ahead, go hatin' on me if you need to - I don't care - you STILL have to pay my taxes. Legal H8 has left me permanently disabled, but I'm sure some "comfortable gays" will find that amusing.

    Posted by: John Bisceglia | Apr 10, 2009 12:43:34 PM

  25. Yes, there were some "massive rallies" after Prop H8 passed, but THEY ACCOMPLISHED NOTHING repeat

    N O T H I N G

    save for mass smug self-satisfaction and self-delusion.

    "Rallies" are NOT what Kramer is talking about.

    But in sum, we need to use EVERY approach to progress for one begets, reinforces, or completes the goals of the others. Mass civil disobedience, in the streets and inside, and economic boycotts—and some screaming—were what finally killed Jim Crow, but passing and signing and administering the laws required to bury him were implemented in "suit & tie" ways.

    Posted by: Leland Frances | Apr 10, 2009 12:50:04 PM

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