Who Is The Enemy Now?

An interesting glimpse into the genius of anger that is Larry Kramer:

Who is the enemy now? Not that old standby, the medical Establishment, which gave him a liver and thus his life. Nor his insurance company; Kramer gratefully pays almost nothing for the thousands of dollars’ worth of anti-viral and anti-rejection drugs delivered monthly to his door. As for homophobia, it may now be too diffuse to respond to the full-bore strategy of a Kramer-style attack. The “lack of anger” he finds around him, and which he has attempted in recent years to replenish from his own apparently bottomless supply, similarly cannot be attacked head on. And sitting on a sofa in his third-floor apartment (he’s terrified of heights because they invite jumping), sweet little Larryasking after one’s health, cuddling his terrierseems to know it. Of course one quickly remembers that even pets are made part of the struggle. A few years (and another dog) ago, when Koch moved into his building, Kramer was ordered by management to keep his distance, at least verbally. So when Kramer ran into the ex-mayor in the mailroom one day, he looked at his pooch and said, “Don’t go near him, Molly, that’s the man who murdered all of Daddy’s friends!”

Kramer's absolutist anger - a prophetic form of activism - met its moment in the AIDS crisis, the moment when hysteria and rage were totally appropriate.

I owe my life in part to his and others' activism. I share his anger, his isolation from the gay establishment, his loathing of the bullshit of the Human Rights Campaign, his frustration that the closet still exists, and his view that the biggest obstacle to gay equality is the self-doubt of so many homosexuals. The gay community is also, alas, criminally indifferent to its history. The memory of the plague has been wiped clean in millions of young minds. Because we do not have our own children, the lessons of our collective past are far more vulnerable. And the kids have moved on. That they barely know who Kramer is any more tells you a lot about their callowness, shallowness and also the success of the movement he helped galvanize. If all political careers end in failure, Larry's is no exception. But it is the failure of all those who helped bring about success.

We once had a long, rambling discussion about my religious faith, why he couldn't understand it, why he felt it was the reason I didn't become the gay leader he wanted me to be. But I replied then and believe now that anger at the rank injustice and cruelty against my brothers and sisters would have consumed me without such faith, and that Jesus' calm perspective on what matters to all human beings, gay and straight, has kept me as sane as I can be.

The only real answer to rage is hope. And, in my experience, hope is as much of a gift as faith. Larry has given many people hope, even as he has enraged others. One day, I pray that hope comes back to console him as well.