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Letter From Larry

Last night in my e mail, I got this from my pal, Larry. He sent it to the LA Times and he sent me a copy as well.

I think it's one of the best things he's ever written.

Larry once told me that he hoped everything would eventually calm down and get to a place of equality for everyone. I then remember him, in the same breath, at the same lunch, almost between two bites of a burger, say that he knew that would never happen because there's too much fighting and people love a good fight.

I don't know that I agree with everything he says, but his passion and his fire have always, always inspired me. He never slows down, and he never ceases to amaze me. He is my hero. I'm proud to call him my friend.







DEAR STRAIGHT PEOPLE,

Why do you hate gay people so much?

Gays are hated. Prove me wrong. Your top general just called us immoral. Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, is in charge of an estimated 65,000 gay and lesbian troops, some fighting for our country in Iraq. A right-wing political commentator, Ann Coulter, gets away with calling a straight presidential candidate a faggot. Even Garrison Keillor, of all people, is making really tacky jokes about gay parents in his column. This, I guess, does not qualify as hate except that it is so distasteful and dumb, often a first step on the way to hate. Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama tried to duck the questions that Pace's bigotry raised, confirming what gay people know: that there is not one candidate running for public office anywhere who dares to come right out, unequivocally, and say decent, supportive things about us.

Gays should not vote for any of them. There is not a candidate or major public figure who would not sell gays down the river. We have seen this time after time, even from supposedly progressive politicians such as President Clinton with his "don't ask, don't tell" policy on gays in the military and his support of the hideous Defense of Marriage Act. Of course, it's possible that being shunned by gays will make politicians more popular, but at least we will have our self-respect. To vote for them is to collude with them in their utter disdain for us.

Don't any of you wonder why heterosexuals treat gays so brutally year after year after year, as your people take away our manhood, our womanhood, our personhood? Why, even as we die you don't leave us alone. What we can leave our surviving lovers is taxed far more punitively than what you leave your (legal) surviving spouses. Why do you do this? My lover will be unable to afford to live in the house we have made for each other over our lifetime together. This does not happen to you. Taxation without representation is what led to the Revolutionary War. Gay people have paid all the taxes you have. But you have equality, and we don't.

And there's no sign that this situation will change anytime soon. President Bush will leave a legacy of hate for us that will take many decades to cleanse. He has packed virtually every court and every civil service position in the land with people who don't like us. So, even with the most tolerant of new presidents, gays will be unable to break free from this yoke of hate. Courts rule against gays with hateful regularity. And of course the Supreme Court is not going to give us our equality, and in the end, it is from the Supreme Court that such equality must come. If all of this is not hate, I do not know what hate is.

Our feeble gay movement confines most of its demands to marriage. But political candidates are not talking about — and we are not demanding that they talk about — equality. My lover and I don't want to get married just yet, but we sure want to be equal.

You must know that gays get beaten up all the time, all over the world. If someone beats you up because of who you are — your race or ethnic origin — that is considered a hate crime. But in most states, gays are not included in hate crime measures, and Congress has refused to include us in a federal act.

Homosexuality is a punishable crime in a zillion countries, as is any activism on behalf of it. Punishable means prison. Punishable means death. The U.S. government refused our requests that it protest after gay teenagers were hanged in Iran, but it protests many other foreign cruelties. Who cares if a faggot dies? Parts of the Episcopal Church in the U.S. are joining with the Nigerian archbishop, who believes gays should be put in prison. Episcopalians! Whoever thought we'd have to worry about Episcopalians?

Well, whoever thought we'd have to worry about Florida? A young gay man was just killed in Florida because of his sexual orientation. I get reports of gays slain in our country every week. Few of them make news. Fewer are prosecuted. Do you consider it acceptable that 20,000 Christian youths make an annual pilgrimage to San Francisco to pray for gay souls? This is not free speech. This is another version of hate. It is all one world of gay-hate. It always was.

Gays do not realize that the more we become visible, the more we come out of the closet, the more we are hated. Don't those of you straights who claim not to hate us have a responsibility to denounce the hate? Why is it socially acceptable to joke about "girlie men" or to discriminate against us legally with "constitutional" amendments banning gay marriage? Because we cannot marry, we can pass on only a fraction of our estates, we do not have equal parenting rights and we cannot live with a foreigner we love who does not have government permission to stay in this country. These are the equal protections that the Bill of Rights proclaims for all?

Why do you hate us so much that you will not permit us to legally love? I am almost 72, and I have been hated all my life, and I don't see much change coming.

I think your hate is evil.

What do we do to you that is so awful? Why do you feel compelled to come after us with such frightful energy? Does this somehow make you feel safer and legitimate? What possible harm comes to you if we marry, or are taxed just like you, or are protected from assault by laws that say it is morally wrong to assault people out of hatred? The reasons always offered are religious ones, but certainly they are not based on the love all religions proclaim.

And even if your objections to gays are religious, why do you have to legislate them so hatefully? Make no mistake: Forbidding gay people to love or marry is based on hate, pure and simple.

You may say you don't hate us, but the people you vote for do, so what's the difference? Our own country's democratic process declares us to be unequal. Which means, in a democracy, that our enemy is you. You treat us like crumbs. You hate us. And sadly, we let you.

Larry Kramer

Comments

( 22 comments — Leave a comment )
(Anonymous)
Mar. 21st, 2007 10:31 am (UTC)
Excellent!
I wish the GLBT community could catch some of his passion. He calls out the haters and enumerates all the hate crimes, not just the physical ones. I have been listening to talk radio a lot while driving and it sickens me how much hate there is for us. Hate and fear much of which comes from just plain ignorance. I kills me to hear someone speak clearly and logically until it comes to us. Then all intelligence and common sense vanishes. Poof.
Shame on Clinton for the pitiful hateful response to Gen. Pace.
Double shame on Obama for side stepping and dancing around trying to say the right thing. Obama is member of a church whose national membership adopted a resolution to support gay marriage. Yet, he is still dancing around a morality question. Shame.
I hope they print Larry Kramer's letter. He is and has for a long time been a hero. I hope they print mine too.

Jackie
(Anonymous)
Mar. 21st, 2007 03:59 pm (UTC)
Go Larry.



-- sheila
(Anonymous)
Mar. 21st, 2007 04:58 pm (UTC)
Do you consider it acceptable that 20,000 Christian youths make an annual pilgrimage to San Francisco to pray for gay souls? This is not free speech. This is another version of hate.

I can tell you're not joking, and I know that this was only a small portion of your (mostly valid) beef with American society in general, but:

You just called getting prayed for, by Christians, a hate crime.

You also put getting prayed for, by Christians, in the same company as murder.

I wonder if you would have made the same associations if the prayer was done by... Muslims? Buddhists? Druidic Priests? New Age yoga instructors?

Who is hating, here?
(Anonymous)
Mar. 21st, 2007 05:43 pm (UTC)
If someone prays for my soul (you left that part out of your comment ... it's not just a prayer, no no - they are praying for the souls of the gays which means: PLEASE let these people "see the light", please "save' them) because they assume, due to this that or the other thing, that I am going to hell - then I would call that a hostile act. Not to mention completely arrogant, socially retarded, and completely missing the point of life. They're free to pray all they want for me - but I'm free to call them asswipes right back at them. And so I do.



-- sheila
(Anonymous)
Mar. 21st, 2007 05:53 pm (UTC)
The prayers
these kids offer up are not for everyone in the city; they are only for the gay folks in the city. The prayers are not positive ones to bless the gay folks for being human; they are negative ones imploring gay folks to disavow who they are, to disavow how they were born, to disavow how the god being prayed to made them. I would love to be prayed for, but I can certainly do without being prayed against.

Jami
abillings
Mar. 21st, 2007 06:02 pm (UTC)
"Who is hating here?"
If you believe prayer cures gays, then you are. That's who.

I'm sorry for you. You have no idea what Jesus meant or where God is in your life. That's too bad. But I caution you, be careful who you hate, they WILL end up in your family.
(Anonymous)
Mar. 21st, 2007 06:09 pm (UTC)
Re: "Who is hating here?"
//they will end up in your family//

haha Exactly.

It's interesting though how this anonymous person completely missed the point - it seems to me almost willfully.

Being prayed AGAINST is a hostile act. To have anonymous-person leave out the "pray for their souls" part of Larry's message is to purposefully miss the point. Convenient, isn't it.



-- sheila
aaronchgo
Mar. 21st, 2007 09:56 pm (UTC)
Um, that would be you and all the ill-informed fundamentalist Heartlanders who think that you have to be in the same city with someone to pray "for" them. Because that's not prayer--that's protest.

On that note, why just travel to San Francisco? Why not New York? Los Angeles? Amsterdam? Each of these cities has a vibrant gay population. But for some reason, all of you "Christian" righties seem to think that the zeitgeist of queerdom blows from San Francisco, because your collective consciousness seems to be stuck somewhere around 1977. There is no "national organization" with its headquarters there, and no "Queen Bee" sitting on a throne issuing orders, giving free toaster ovens to those of us who recruit the most unsuspecting youth.

Get a grip. Get a life. And get a clue.
orlith
Mar. 21st, 2007 04:58 pm (UTC)
Goddess bless Larry Kramer.

Travis
(Anonymous)
Mar. 21st, 2007 06:00 pm (UTC)
I'm linking to this.
It needs to be read by lots of folks and I couldn't find it at the LA Times. So you get to play hostess.

Jami
abillings
Mar. 21st, 2007 06:04 pm (UTC)
Re: I'm linking to this.
I don't know if they printed it, all I know is that he sent it.

I'd be very surprised if they were that brave.
(Anonymous)
Mar. 21st, 2007 06:07 pm (UTC)
Re: I'm linking to this.
They did print it!


-- sheila
abillings
Mar. 21st, 2007 06:32 pm (UTC)
Re: I'm linking to this.
Holy Moley!!!!!!!!

This is me.

Surprised.

Happily.
(Anonymous)
Mar. 22nd, 2007 03:09 am (UTC)
Re: I'm linking to this.
They printed it! Wondeful! Now I can't wait to see the responses. There should be a version of Larry's letter in every paper in the nation.
I love you Larry Kramer!

Jackie
dharmashanti
Mar. 21st, 2007 10:15 pm (UTC)
I am grateful for Larry Kramer and for all that he has added to the dialogue over the decades. He contributes so much.

I can appreciate his frustration and hurt and anger. I've certainly experienced my share of hate and bigotry directed at me. It is important for us to be honest about the feelings such attacks bring up. But then it's time to move beyond the hate, beyond the hurt, beyond the battles back and forth.

Hate is born of delusion and ignorance and fear. Hate is a reaction to suffering, even if we can't see their suffering. All we can see is their hate. But the suffering is there.

Do you want to stop the hate? Do you REALLY want to stop the hate? How far would you be willing to go to stop the hate? Would you let go of your identity as "victim"? Would you let go of your own hate and resentments towards them? Would you live a life of generosity and compassion towards all people regardless of their politics? Until you do these things, you can expect the hate to continue.

There are a lot of people that hate me because I'm gay or because I'm transgender or because I'm a woman or because I'm American or because I'm Buddhist or because I'm white (technically I'm a rosy-beige with big, brown polka dots, but whatever). But their hate is their problem. I'm not going to be their victim. I'm going to live a life of abundance and generosity and compassion in spite of their small-mindedness.

I have so much respect for Alex for having the courage to be true to herself as a transwoman and true to her calling as an actress (and a fabulous one at that). I'm grateful for a world that has her in it.

Peace,
Dharmashanti
(Anonymous)
Mar. 22nd, 2007 05:16 am (UTC)
I think people like Larry and Alex, who are unfraid to live their lives with passion, are the sort of people who are going to be the ones to spark change in others.

(Anonymous)
Mar. 22nd, 2007 09:30 pm (UTC)
Larry Kramer Comment
Alex. Those who persecute Gays are afraid of their inner self. Denial is rampant throughout the Christian Community. How many get caught!! YOu and Chrissy are married and it's definitely no threat to any straight couple. I don't hate Gays - I have two in the family and I'm proud of their accomplishments. I don't see you as being a threat to anyone. I love you, Dad
david_cerda
Mar. 23rd, 2007 03:01 pm (UTC)
I read his letter too and admire his passion and commitment. I was wondering...Does he ever just kick back and do silly things?
aaronchgo
Mar. 23rd, 2007 04:41 pm (UTC)
On a more positive note, you're lucky that you can call him a friend. You seem to be one of the few he respects! The rest of us seem to get the rough side of his tongue, like so many "gay cattle" who deserve to be led to the slaughter because we "won't help ourselves." Or something. At least that's the gist of what I've gotten from many of his speeches and writings. In fact, I usually can't even read what he writes because I find it so hurtful and disdainful.

I wonder sometimes if he realizes how demoralizing that is for some of us who still have to live a struggle through an increasingly hostile world; that for all the fear and alienation he and his contemporaries felt, we still feel the same fear, the same bigotry and harrassment (hey, people is people) and that they lived in a world with more natural resources, more compassion, less "dumbing down" and more hope for the future than we will ever see again. And that perhaps what he takes for apathy and lethargy might simply be resignation and defeat. Which would be unforgivable, but won't be cured by being yelled at or condescended to. (I know that doesn't help me.)

This letter, I felt, directed his anger where it belonged. Perhaps if we didn't receive so many negative messages from "straight" society, we would not internalize them, and not behave in the defeatist ways that seem to infuriate him so much.

In the meantime, all we can do is keep struggling with it. I hope he'll at least be patient with us.
abillings
Mar. 23rd, 2007 06:47 pm (UTC)
Yeah
I hear that a lot about him. It's so funny, because I think of Larry as a sweet, kind, very gentle and loving man. I know how he can be politically, but really, inside of him is this completely different guy.

He's a pussycat.

And although I see your point, there are times when the gays anger me as well. In my own community, sometimes I want to take people by their sequined collars and shake the life out of them. So, I understand Larry's frustration.
aaronchgo
Mar. 23rd, 2007 08:14 pm (UTC)
Re: Yeah
I do, too. I'm about the "non-gayest" gay person in the world (although I do love me some Judy Garland and Joan Crawford flicks), and I think lots of gay culture is shallow as hell, and what he says makes a lot of sense. And since I'm not part of the "sequin collar" set, I probably shouldn't take Larry Kramer's diatribes as being directed at me! But there IS a lot of viciousness in our "community" (I sometimes wonder if we can even call it that), and we'd be better served if we fought together instead of against each other, so he's right. Wasn't he also the one who said that "the way heterosexuals treat gay people is a shame, but they way gays treat each other is a tragedy?" It's so true--every day is like "The Boys In The Band" or a gay "Lord of the Flies."
(Anonymous)
Mar. 24th, 2007 08:01 am (UTC)
There's hope
No, it's not enough and it isn't nearly soon enough, but there is hope. My parents (born in the 1920's) came to see me perform in a college production of "The Normal Heart" in 1984 - they were both crying at the end and the only negative thing they had to say was "you said there would be profanity, but not that you would be saying it."

I cannot understand the fear and hatred of homosexuality; love is the ultimate good - it cannot be wrong. I am glad you have fought and continue to fight, and I do not wish you to turn a blind eye and deaf ear to the small-minded evil that is far too prevalent. But I do hope that you can find some consolation in that we have made some progress since Stonewall, hell - even since the '80's, and that your life and work has contributed greatly to that growth.

I have tremendous respect for you and I want to offer you some support, solace and love. I know it's not enough, but it's all I have.

~ Michele
( 22 comments — Leave a comment )