ACT-UP | AIDS/HIV | Ed Koch | Larry Kramer | News | Peter Staley

Ed Koch Wants Larry Kramer to Get Presidential Medal of Freedom

Ed Koch reviews How to Survive a Plague but fails to mention his own failed response to the AIDS crisis and its role in the film. Koch suggests, too, that Larry Kramer and other AIDS activists should get the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and Kramer responds in the post's comments, calling the closeted Koch "a murderer of his very own people."

DeathsKoch writes:

The person who makes the greatest impact in the film because of his superb speaking ability is Peter Staley. In his New York Times review of this movie, Stephen Holden describes Staley as: "A former closeted Wall Street bond trader with H.I.V. who left his job and helped found the Treatment Action Group, an offshoot of Act Up. Self-taught in the science of AIDS, the group collaborated with pharmaceutical companies like Merck in the development of new drugs."
Others named in the Times' review as major leaders of Act Up, which began its activities in 1987, are Larry Kramer, Robert Rafsky and Ann Northrop, all of whom appear in the film. I don't know if these individuals were ever honored by the White House for what they did in fighting government and powerful corporations. If not, I urge President Obama to do so by presenting them and other leaders recognized by Act Up with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Staley responds, in Poz:

Amazing how he fails to mention his own shameful role in this film, or this history...

And Larry Kramer responds, in the Poz post's comments:

What is this evil man up to as he approaches his death? Is he trying to make up to us? National Medals of Freedom from the White House! Would these provide a big enough enema to clean out his rotten insides? We must never forget that this man was an active participant in helping us to die, in murdering us. Call it what you will, that is what Edward Koch was, a murderer of his very own people. There is no way to avoid knowing that now. The facts have long since been there staring us in the face. If we don't see them, then we are as complicit as he.

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  1. I was living in NYC at that time and could not (and still don't) understand the anger aimed at Koch. As far as I was concerned, the blame for the spread of HIV/AIDS was because of incaction by the FEDERAL government...not the mayor of NYC.

    Posted by: Myackie | Oct 12, 2012 2:28:58 PM

  2. Right or wrong, I love it that Larry never holds back!

    Posted by: Jack M | Oct 12, 2012 2:52:11 PM

  3. MYACKIE: I agree with you 100% and it infuriates me to no end to read the caustic, vicious comments spewing forth from that very embittered crank, Larry Kramer.

    When the AIDS crisis hit, NYC coped with it as best as possible and Ed Koch, as mayor, did as much as anyone could at that time with the available knowledge that we had.

    In the 1970s, when the Legionnaires Disease struck, the federal government lost NO time in finding out the cause and possible treatments.

    When AIDS struck, it took Ronald Reagan SEVEN years to even say the word "AIDS". There was no action no urgency at all by the feds. There was only sneering condemnation and we were lucky to even get THAT.

    Larry Kramer's beef with Ed Koch is that Ed Koch didn't jump when Larry Kramer demanded that Koch and the NYC Health Dept. shut down the then-flourishing bath houses and back-room bars.

    I won't go into the irony of Larry Kramer screaming for those sleazy establishments to be shut down. THAT is another story entirely and it would require me to get very, very nasty about Mr. Kramer.

    Ed Koch and NYC were not perfect in the early days of the AIDS crisis. Nobody was. But, the City of NY responded better than the federal government did and Larry Kramer should simply shut his tired, embittered, petty, mean-spirited mouth when he starts talking about Ed Koch.

    Larry Kramer has absolutely no room to bad-mouth anyone, his ACT-UP association notwithstanding. That Kramer is STILL holding useless and baseless grudges against Ed Koch is the height of absurdity.

    Larry, honey, sit down and shut the f*ck up.

    Posted by: jamal49 | Oct 12, 2012 2:57:18 PM

  4. Suppose that Ed Koch *is* "trying to make up to us". Isn't that a good thing?

    Posted by: Jack | Oct 12, 2012 3:16:36 PM

  5. Ed Koch abandoned his lover and left him to die of AIDS alone.

    Larry Kramer is of course SO much worse. Right Jamal?

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Oct 12, 2012 3:32:40 PM

  6. I'm finding the fact that Larry Kramer seems to be in a nasty, uber-personal knife fight with nearly everyone who has ever publicly disagreed with him to be fairly telling about how I should take his accusations now. He doesn't know how to do anything but get his way, and everyone who challenges that appears to be an "enemy" (and is for decades and decades to follow). As Walter Matthau once said about Barbra Streisand (reference INTENTIONAL), "Brilliant talent. Pain in the ass to work with." That's Kramer, too.

    Posted by: BreckRoy | Oct 12, 2012 3:41:01 PM

  7. With the same justification, people should blame Dianne Feinstein for the spread of HIV/AIDS in San Francisco...

    There's only so much a mayor can do...but the FEDERAL government had the power and resources to act...and chose not to do so.

    I blame Reagan and his administration for a lot of the AIDS crisis.

    Posted by: Myackie | Oct 12, 2012 3:41:09 PM

  8. Based on the internalized homophobia of "Faggots" Kramer may be as guilty as any religious wing-nut in thinking HIV was the 'wrath of God'.

    Recently Kramer has been kvetching about how younger gay men living in his apartment don't bow down to him in awe, how they prefer to go to bars and clubs that are not exclusively gay, and how none of the ageist twinks on GRINDR want to hook-up with a hot septuagenarian daddy (age discrimination!)

    Larry laments that the 'gay scene' is disappearing as acceptance increases and we become more and more integrated into mainstream society. Wasn't this the end those Stonewall activist had in mind? For knee-jerk kvetches like Kramer there's nothing as insulting as getting what you want!

    Posted by: peter | Oct 12, 2012 5:01:37 PM

  9. It wasn't Ed Koch's job to respond to the AIDS crisis. The crisis was of the making of the crowd who hang out at sex clubs all night sniffing amyl and having sex with as many strangers as possible.

    Keep in mind that the "gay male scene" is a designed, closed and incestuous place. It's like a test tube to which a lot of things are added and mixed. When this happens, it produces all sorts of ailments that are due to the sexual mixing of unknowns.

    The "gay male community" has never fully taken responsibility for such appalling behavior and probably never will. The community is based on promiscuity - admit it.

    I say all of the above because I'm concerned for the welfare of men who are sold the phony notion of gay rights, only to be seduced into a world of unbridled promiscuity.

    Posted by: jason | Oct 12, 2012 5:49:08 PM

  10. who is to blame for continued nyc seroconversions today? bloomberg?

    why aren't gay leaders, like those with north american satellite radio shows, addressing this, in the 4th decade of the crisis?

    gay apologists for the rest of their lives? have they learned nothing?

    Posted by: t | Oct 12, 2012 6:37:22 PM

  11. What do you know about sex clubs and Amyl Nitrate "Jason"?

    "It wasn't Ed Koch's job to respond to the AIDS crisis."

    Translation: "Am I my brother's keeper?"

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Oct 12, 2012 6:41:18 PM

  12. David Ehrenstein,

    I know for a fact that men who populate the men-only sex clubs constantly sniff amyl. The pungent odor wafts through the corridors - you can't miss it. I also know that men go to holes in the wall where they can do things to others without even knowing who it is. It could be their own father on the other side.

    The glory hole is truly the best symbol of deterioriating moral standards in our community.

    I'm actually going to be starting a campaign to shut these places down.

    Posted by: jason | Oct 12, 2012 6:50:24 PM

  13. As mayor, Ed Koch was so closeted, and so scared of people thinking he might have sympathy for gays, that he actively opposed municipal public health measures to control the spread of HIV.

    Just two months ago, Ed Koch compared Pussy Riot to ACT UP, and took Vladimir Putin's side against Pussy Riot.

    Is it any wonder that Larry Kramer thinks as poorly of Ed Koch today as he did 30 years ago?

    Posted by: BABH | Oct 12, 2012 7:02:37 PM

  14. Jason: You spend a lot of time sniffing the air in "men-only sex clubs", and checking out the action at the gloryholes?

    Posted by: BABH | Oct 12, 2012 7:04:12 PM

  15. BABH,

    Well, actually, I've done a lot of research. I've taken mental notes as I've walked through those dark corridors through which amyl wafts.

    Don't underestimate my arguments as I've lived them before making them.

    Posted by: jason | Oct 12, 2012 7:57:55 PM

  16. "The glory hole is truly the best symbol of deterioriating moral standards in our community.

    I'm actually going to be starting a campaign to shut these places down."

    How 80s of you. I can hear the ghost of Randy Shilts applauding. He used to go to SF sex club called "The Slot." That's where he met "Patient Zero."

    Michel Foucault used to go there too.

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Oct 12, 2012 8:05:11 PM

  17. What exactly did Kramer DO to address the AIDS crisis ? I mean, what is it he is supposedly taking credit for ?

    I distinctly remember him at MANY meetings having remarkable tantrums and spitting all over the place, incoherent often, insulting always, shouting people down, and generally behaving like a f*cking retard.

    You know, some of us are still around and remember distinctly how ineffectual faggots like Larry were, how much trouble they caused and how they distracted people from getting the information they needed that would have saved their lives.

    And blaming the spread of HIV/AIDS on the Federal government, when our fellow faggots were SO damn busy spreading STD's without any concern or regard for themselves or each other is the kind of bull$hit revisionism I've come to know and love from the stupid faggot posters here.

    Don't lie about the past, you a$sholes; anyone even vaguely familiar with it knows you're lying, or stupid, or both.

    Posted by: "The Gay" | Oct 12, 2012 8:17:42 PM

  18. There was no such thing as Patient Zero. This ridiculous expression assumes that the illness was created in one person and spread from that one person. No such thing.

    Immune-deficiency illnesses have been around for eternity. It's just that we in the community created the closed, incestuous conditions that concentrated the factors that conribute to their development.

    Also, once you have a community based on identity politics - such as ours - you create illnesses based on identity politics. Face it - we've created this double-edged sword that has its foundation in identity politics.

    In reality, no acquired illness has the ability to target a person on the basis of their identity. Illnesses don't discriminate on the basis of who you are but on the basis of what you do to facilitate their spreading.

    It's high time the gay community - particularly the New York crowd - started acting more responsibly.

    Posted by: jason | Oct 12, 2012 8:55:08 PM

  19. Jason: I do agree that the gay community needs to act more responsible in terms of casual sex but with HIV/AIDS, there were a lot of people in the early to mid 80's who got infected because there was very little information out there on how the disease was transmitted. There was no funding for education and lots of people (even educated people) were in the dark about how it was contracted until the late 80's. You can't blame these people for that.

    That said, I am concerned about this latest meningitis scare affecting gay men in NYC. This reminds me of the whole start of the AIDS crisis and maybe is a warning sign that gay guys need to keep it in their pants and not be such sex pigs.

    Posted by: justindada | Oct 13, 2012 2:58:47 AM

  20. I think the issue was funding of free health clinics just after the city came out of bankruptcy. Koch was a fiscal conservative that got city finances somewhat back on track. He had to go begging to Albany a lot, but it sort of worked. At the time, the city was much more socially conservative than it is today. Kramer wanted free this and free that. Where Koch fell down was basically in ignoring AIDS activists, not talking about it, not meeting with them, etc. He didn't fund any AIDS organizations, nor have much of a public education campaign. He didn't do the easy stuff. He did close down the bath houses, which was heavy-handed since public health information campaigns could have been channeled through them. Kramer was never going to be satisfied, though.

    Posted by: anon | Oct 13, 2012 2:42:30 PM

  21. It's brave of the posters here to use the "p" word: promiscuity, the singular, sole cause of AIDS. As Michael Callen and Richard Berkowitz stated, "we know who we are." Instead of closing ranks around safe sex, Kramer and the gay community attacked Callen and Berkowitz (and by proxy, Dr. Joe Sonnabend) calling them vicious, vile things, awful names. The community rejected safe sex, chose the killer-virus theory instead and everyone went back to the baths while taking AZT, ddI, d4T, d3T and other cytotoxic drugs. After all it was a virus that was responsible, not the 1,500 men who came in my azz or the 55 STD infections and reinfections I had the last ten years. Before my brother died of AIDS-related Dementia and AZT poisoning in West Hollywood in '91, he boldly and bravely took responsibility for his life in the tubs and miles of cocaine when he told me in a scratchy voice: "we f*cked ourselves to death."

    Posted by: Mike Stewart | Jan 27, 2013 12:35:00 AM

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