Larry Kramer’s American People in 4,000 Pages

New York magazine's Jesse Green takes a look at Larry Kramer's 4,000 page historical journey, The American People, which he's been at work on since 1978, the triumphs, failures, and fights in between then and now, and what will likely be seen as its most controversial topics when it's published (hopefully in 2011):

Manuscript Though The American People includes controversial sections set
in worlds and times Kramer has himself experienced, it is his
“queering” of beloved historical figures that will surely get the most
attention. “His idea of history is that everyone was gay: Joe Louis, De
Gaulle, anybody,” jokes Kramer’s friend and Yale classmate Calvin
Trillin. With Lincoln, at least, Kramer isn’t alone; recent academic
studies, and articles in the popular press, have debated the nature of
Lincoln’s feelings for his roommate Joshua Speed, with whom he shared a
bed for four years and a loving correspondence thereafter. But Kramer
says he has new evidence, including details of other male lovers, that
expands on accounts that first came to light when a diary and stash of
letters were supposedly found under the floorboards of a building in
which Lincoln and Speed lived together. Even so, what he writes about
other famous names in American history will, he advertises, prove “far
more stomach-turning” to the masses.

“I do not think it is too much to state that Washington was major gay,”
he says. “That the big love of his life was Hamilton, who returned that
love, and that Lafayette and Washington were involved with each other
romantically over many years. Others I go into include Lewis, who was
desperately in love with Clark, and who committed suicide when the
expedition was over and he would be with Clark no more.” He says he has
“much, much better stuff” about J. Edgar Hoover than anyone has
reported, as well as on FDR’s foreign-policy adviser Sumner Welles,
former CIA counterintelligence chief James Jesus Angleton, and even
Kramer’s old nemesis Ed Koch, who has lived in the same building as
Kramer since he left Gracie Mansion, and who always denied joining the
fold.

Previously…
Larry Kramer Takes Historians to Task for Denying Gays a History [tr]
Larry Kramer Rails at Yale's 'Conspiracy of Silence' on Gay History [tr]
Larry Kramer Slams Gay Orgs: 'Lazy, Torpid, Unimaginative, Useless' [tr]

Comments

  1. Landon Bryce says

    Jesse Green’s article is excellent and worth reading in whole. Kramer continues to be fascinating, but, to me, he stopped being relevant when he declared that gay people are superior to others and made it clear that that idea is central to his belief system.

    That’s crazy talk.

    That’s the sort of egotism from which all bigotry is born. The idea of the Chosen People is one of the most poisonous ones that monotheism has foisted onto the world. God doesn’t anyone better than anyone else, and no one group of people is inherently superior to any other. Your sufferings may be unique, but so are everyone else’s. Reagan let AIDS kill the gays because he thought the same way Larry Kramer does: some people are just better than others.

    Minorities can most effectively lead by example, and Kramer is temperamentally incapable of that. He’s a brilliant, crazy old coot who did some incredibly useful stuff, and this article captures that very well.

    I’ll buy The American People and I’ll try hard to read it. Kramer’s greatest sin, in my opinion, is that he is an unfocused, inconsistent writer. I doubt many of us will make it through the book, but I do promise to make a sincere effort.

  2. gregorybrown says

    Not only will somebody have to read this to edit it–but will have to listen to Larry Kramer’s complaints about the job being done. I do appreciate the fact that LK is on hand as one great buzzing irritant to keep the rest of us agitated and non-complaisant, at least until we’re tired of the volume and tune him out.

  3. Henry Holland says

    “Pity the poor fool who gets that editing job. We’re talking Norma Desmond crazy here.”

    Hahahaha, excellent. Is the person who starts it going to end up face down in a pool?

  4. Bill says

    Give ’em hell Larry! I hope he explored non-European built countries as well. Unfortunately, many areas of the world have been unexplored as far as homosexuality goes. More gay people in Asia, Africa, South America, and the Pacific Islands need to explore the homosexuality in their histories.

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