At first, AIDS activist and playwright Larry Kramer saw Dr. Anthony Fauci as the personification of bureaucratic neglect — a cold and remote presence who failed to fully acknowledge and respond to the tragic scope of a disease that was wiping out a generation of gay men. He didn’t mince words, labeling Fauci ” a murderer.”
And yet, over time, things softened as Fauci began to work more collaboratively with Kramer and the activist group he co-founded ACT UP to develop better treatments for AIDS and HIV. Over the course of more than three decades, a relationship that was initially adversarial blossomed into a deep friendship.
Kramer, whose body of work includes the pioneering look at the early days of the AIDS crisis, “The Normal Heart,” died Wednesday at the age of 84. Fauci, who as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has helped guide the country’s response to coronavirus, spoke with Variety about Kramer’s life, legacy, and the unusual bond they forged during an earlier public health crisis.
When did you first meet Larry Kramer?
In the mid to late 80’s. I was and am now a U.S. government official. Larry had a problem with how the Reagan and Bush administrations were handling the AIDS outbreak. He started to attack me as the face of the federal government and he did it in a rather iconoclastic, confrontative, theatrical way.
One of the first things he did was to write an article in the San Francisco Examiner in 1988 entitled “An Open Letter to Dr. Anthony Fauci.” He referred to me as an incompetent idiot and a murderer. He got my attention for sure.
This article was originally published on yahoo.com/entertainment/.