Last night, I had the profound privilege and honor to attend the Celebration of Life ceremony for activist, author, and metaphorical mentor, Larry Kramer.
It’s difficult to put into words the deep impact that Larry had on my life, even though I only met him once. That meeting, in itself, was a highlight of my own life. I was visiting a mutual friend, who happened to live in the same building as Larry. As soon as she heard about my tours, she promptly brought me down to his apartment for an impromptu visit. His apartment was exactly how I envisioned it – stacks and stacks of messy books scattered about, documents strewn everywhere, and a huge desktop with some draft of his ingenious words. I asked Larry, “When I give tours, what’s one thing you want me to tell people about you?” He said, “I love being gay. I love gay people. And we need to stick together and fight back.”
This loss of Larry is one that I felt deeply, even though we only had this one interaction. Larry Kramer is the reason I’m alive today and the reason I found my passion and my life’s work. He taught me countless lessons through his own example, most prominently, that activism can take several forms and shapes, and indeed, it should and it needs to. We need the activists marching in the streets, the writers who are raising awareness about certain topics, and internal advocates setting meetings with those in power. Larry did it all and then some.
It’s because of Larry’s work that I felt inspired to attend my first ACT UP meeting in 2016. And learning more about the Movement, the work of ACT UP, and all of the work that still needs to be done, is what inspired me to coin my personal motto, which eventually became the mission of Christopher Street Tours: sharing stories and uplifting voices from those who paved the way before us. It’s because of Larry that I continue to share these stories and continue to give these tours. Uplifting his voice and his work, and countless others, is my life’s greatest honor.
The program for his Celebration of Life was thoughtfully curated and meaningful. It also didn’t shy away from the person that was Larry, most often quoted as “a pain in the ass.” But despite his grouchy demeanor, and his well-known anger and rage, there was no doubt that his legacy and his impact will live on forever.
We heard eulogies and performances from Tony Kushner, John Cameron Mitchell, Dr. Anthony Fauci, original ACT UP members, and others. Each one was a breathtaking and genuine tribute. And each one had something in common – their love and admiration for Larry.
As we gathered to celebrate Larry’s life, it ignited a spark and a reminder: we must carry his torch forward. We must continue to advocate for equitable healthcare, combat discrimination, and amplify the voices of marginalized communities. Larry Kramer’s legacy serves as a reminder that our fight for justice, acceptance, and equal rights is far from over.
As we remember his unwavering determination and unyielding spirit, let us recommit ourselves to the causes he held dear. May Larry Kramer’s legacy inspire us to fight for justice, promote compassion, and advocate for the rights of all individuals.
Let us carry the torch forward, united in our resolve to create a more inclusive and equitable world.