Larry Kramer’s Political Punch

Playwright/activist Larry Kramer is no less outspoken about the field of Democratic candidates even as they court the gay vote.

Of the recent Logo/Human Rights Campaign Forum, Kramer said, “There’s talk and then there’s talk. They didn’t say much, those candidates. And they weren’t grilled, those candidates…”

Of Hillary Clinton, he said, “We take so much lip service. Hillary says, ‘I love you, I love you, I love you'” and we believe her. I don’t believe her.”

I listened to Kramer, the founder of AIDS activist group ACT/UP, speak to the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Assn. convention in San Diego on Saturday, and he was pretty pessimistic about the state of gay rights and where they are headed. While he is a self-described curmudgeon, he had a way of challenging the establishment, particularly gay political leaders in Washington and in Hollywood. He doubted that things would be that much different a couple generations from now, and bemoaned what he cited as a passivity in the gay population.

“As I get older, I don’t get more optimistic about where we’re going
and where we’ll end up in another 40 years. We make progress but we
don’t make enough progress. We take itty bitty steps then we take 10
giant steps back. Considering how many of us there are and how much
money we have, we don’t have power. We are, in essence, a very passive
population.

He added later, “The other side, the people who don’t like us, they meet every week where they decide what to do. It’s called church.”

As he has been in the past, he was especially critical of the Human Rights Campaign as not doing enough to advance the cause of gay rights.

“I see everyone ass kissing,” he said. “…I think HRC — it gives the word ‘beggar’ new meaning when it comes to dealing with these candidates.”

He said that gay organizations were not as visible as they could be during the Larry Craig scandal. He cited the case of Terry Dolan, the closeted founder of the National Conservative Political Action Committee. In 1985, Kramer ran into Dolan at a Washington DC cocktail party for gay leaders, and threw a glass of water in his face. Kramer said to him, “How dare you show up at a gay party after all the things you’re doing against us with your conservative action thing?”  Just months before, Kramer had taken Dolan and his boyfriend to the gay disco the Flamingo.

Meanwhile, George Will had this to say about the Craig story: “Double standard? There are triple and quadruple standards. He was arrested for lewd behavior that consisted of signaling an interest in sex. It goes on in 10,000 bars every night in our country. Obviously, this is about homosexuality and the country coming to grips with it and particularly the Republican Party which has done so well electorally in recent elections by being against gay rights.”

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