2. Larry Kramer

Larry Kramer from April 2007 via Wikimedia Commons via David Shankbone

Larry Kramer was born in Connecticut in 1935, but he moved to New York, where his Gay Rights activism, plays, and work combatting AIDS strongly impacted the city. As a playwright and author, his controversial plays and novels such as Faggots, which is a satirical parody on the promiscuous nature of “Urban Gays,” often faced harsh criticism — and that particular novel was even removed from the shelves of the only gay bookstore in New York City at the time.

Larry Kramer really began to make a name for himself on the activist front in the 1980s during the AIDS epidemic. He was frustrated with the lack of response it was getting from both political figures and the gay community. Kramer often openly criticized the people who were doing nothing about the epidemic that was killing many of his friends and his community. To combat the apathy, he wrote the play, The Normal Heat, which was performed in New York City’s, The Public Theater.

Kramer didn’t stop at raising awareness of AIDS through his writing and political criticism: he also started the organization, the Gay Man’s Health Crisis, which provided information, services, and help to New York residents who were HIV-positive. Larry Kramer wasn’t satisfied with only offering services; he wanted to raise awareness in a bigger way so he started Act Up (the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power), which strove to be loud and to “act up” by offering to pay for fines and arrests related to the cause in order to force people to acknowledge the epidemic. Kramer was successful in his endeavor as President Reagan finally addressed AIDS by name in 1987 and it was taken more seriously by politicians and the public.