American playwrightDied when: 84 years 337 days (1019 months)
Star Sign: Cancer
Laurence David Kramer (June 25, 1935 – May 27, 2020) was an American playwright, author, film producer, public health advocate, and gay rights activist.
He began his career rewriting scripts while working for Columbia Pictures, which led him to London, where he worked with United Artists.
There he wrote the screenplay for the film Women in Love (1969) and received an Academy Award nomination for his work.
In 1978, Kramer introduced a controversial and confrontational style in his novel Faggots, which earned mixed reviews and emphatic denunciations from elements within the gay community for Kramer's portrayal of what he characterized as shallow, promiscuous gay relationships in the 1970s.
Kramer witnessed the spread of the disease later known as Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) among his friends in 1980.He co-founded the Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC), which has become the world's largest private organization assisting people living with AIDS.
Kramer grew frustrated with bureaucratic paralysis and the apathy of gay men to the AIDS crisis, and wished to engage in further action than the social services GMHC provided.
He expressed his frustration by writing a play titled The Normal Heart, produced at The Public Theater in New York City in 1985.
His political activism continued with the founding of the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP) in 1987, an influential direct action protest organization with the aim of gaining more public action to fight the AIDS crisis.
ACT UP has been widely credited with changing public health policy and the perception of people living with AIDS, and with raising awareness of HIV and AIDS-related diseases.
Kramer was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for his play The Destiny of Me (1992), and he was a two-time recipient of the Obie Award.