OutNEXT 2019 was closed out with a passionate fireside chat with Larry Kramer, the playwright turned activist who founded ACT UP to fight back against government apathy during the AIDS crisis. The panel was moderated by Kate Kendall, Vice Chair of OutWOMEN and former director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights.
“No one was willing to confront a system that wouldn’t pay any attention to us,” said Kramer, speaking on what drove him to advocacy in the 80s. “We knew that Ronald Reagan had gone on record: he was irrevocably, and unalterably opposed to anything having to do with homosexuality.”
Kramer also spoke on the lack of activism within the modern gay community. “Why aren’t we fighting for our lives? What do you do all week long, for your people, our people?”
“We will always be hated, and people just don’t like gay people,” said Kramer, reminding the audience not to become complacent in a world that still holds such animus towards LGBT+ people. “We have to understand that. Live with it. Not let it get us down, and not be surprised that so many people in this world hate us. We’re not fighting hard enough.”
“I didn’t save your life, you saved your life,” Kramer said towards the end of the panel. “I don’t think I did anything that anybody couldn’t have done. All of you. Doesn’t take any brains to see what needs to be done, what we’re lacking, what needs to happen. It’s not rocket science.”