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Larry Kramer: Homophobia the 'Norm' For Gay Writers

Larry Kramer: Homophobia the 'Norm' For Gay Writers

Photo by Benedict Evans

The celebrated activist and writer says mainstream media continues to marginalize and discredit gay authors. 

When Paper Magazine posited a straightforward question to celebrated activist, author, and playwright Larry Kramer--whether he thought the mainstream media's treatment of gay people had improved over the years--his elaborate "no" brimmed with the fiery rhetoric Kramer is known and loved for. Here are a few take-aways from the piece he penned:

On critical reception of Andrew Holleran, whom Kramer praises as the greatest gay writer:

"Straight people don't really want to discover us and who we are. Holleran's novels '...seem so determined to speak for their disenfranchised gay characters that the works become inaccessible to anyone else, like looking through a window at someone else's world,' a critic wrote in her New York Times review of his most recent novel, Grief. Funny, but I thought that's exactly what any good writer tries to do."

On The New York Times' treatment of gay writers:

"When we fall into the hands of book critics at The Times, we are amazed at their lack of understanding, empathy, of what we are trying to do and say. It is quite amazing how fervent and omnipresent is the homophobia that never-endingly remains the norm for gay writers in their book reviews. There is not one gay or lesbian author who has not experienced what I'm talking about.

The daily New York Times and its Sunday Book Review are famous among gay writers for ignoring us, or trashing us. Straight critics just don't get us. Just like straight historians don't get us. It's their way or the highway. And as The Timesgoes, so go other publications and critics in America in their relentless game of Follow the Leader."

On critical reception of his latest book, The American People: Volume 1: Search for My Heart:

"When I read a review I can tell if the critic has really read my book. The two NYT reviewers border on the unprofessional. I would bet that neither of them read the 775 pages of my book, as they continued to trash it and its "loudmouthed activist" author. They spend most of their reviews discussing a me they think they know from my alter-ego activist persona and not my book, which they hardly mention, or its goals, or the quality of its writing, which I've worked so very hard to do well."

On why he writes:

"No, I don't like The New York Times. And neither does any gay or lesbian writer that I know of. I believe that a good writer's responsibility is to try and change the world. That is what theater since ancient Greece was meant to do. I want The American People to change the world. I want gay people all over the world to know our history. And I am certain that Andrew Holleran, in every word that he writes, wants this, too."

To read the full piece, visit Paper Magazine.

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