Michael Crawford

Larry Kramer: "We get what we fight for. And we are not fighting."

Filed By Michael Crawford | September 23, 2009 12:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Gay Icons and History, Politics, The Movement

Larry Kramer gave a speech at Dallas Gay Pride on Sunday and in typical Larry Kramer style he was tough and aggressive.

We get what we fight for. And we are not fighting. Every single one of us is not fighting. They fight better than we do. There is a concerted and never ending vein of hate in this country and in this world dedicated to keeping us in our place. It is evil to force people to be what we are not -- free. We are not free.

I agree with Larry we get what we fight for and every single one of us should be fighting for full LGBT equality. Far too many of us are content to go to the club while refusing to contact elected officials in support of pro-LGBT legislation.

In this moment when we have the chance to make serious forward movement on gay rights we need everyone to drop the attitude, roll up their sleeves, and get to work pressuring elected officials at the local, state, and federal levels to pass LGBT legislation.

During his campaign for the presidency Obama urged us to hold him accountable for the promises he made to the LGBT community. We can't do that if we're seating on the sidelines.

After the jump, read Larry Kramer's full speech.


We must never forget that everything we have won can very quickly be taken away from us. We have seen this time and again. Presidents come and go ignoring us. This president is no different. Once again he is not doing it for us and once again we are letting him get away with it. This President is another loser for us and I predict he will remain this way.

We must remember that we do not have the freedom to marry, to inherit, to adopt, to share our health insurance, to learn about our history in our schools. To learn that our two greatest presidents, Washington and Lincoln were gay. We do not have the freedom to live as straight people have the freedom to live. We do not have the freedom to have our bars not raided by police and officers beating us up with such fury that we land in hospitals.

We have not learned to fight back with the same fury with which they fight us. You do not get more with honey than with vinegar. There are over one thousand benefits from our government that straight couples get that we are denied. This is not freedom. This is not equality. America's Bill of Rights says we are meant to be equal.

You must know, we must never forget, that every single treatment for hiv/aids is out there because of gay aids activists, led by ACT UP chapters across the country and Project Inform in San Francisco. They did not come from the government. They came because gay people fought like tigers and screaming banshees to get the system that hates us deliver them to us. If you want to read how we did it get my book The Tragedy of Today's Gays. This achievement, the obtaining of these drugs, I believe to be the single greatest achievement gay people have accomplished in all of history and we must be remembered for it.

The lesson should be clear. The lesson should be obvious. It should show us what we are capable of achieving when we put our minds and hearts and brains and bodies together and work together all together as brothers and sisters and one big family. There is not one person here today who is not capable of being such an activist.

We get what we fight for. And we are not fighting. Every single one of us is not fighting. They fight better than we do. There is a concerted and never ending vein of hate in this country and in this world dedicated to keeping us in our place. It is evil to force people to be what we are not -- free. We are not free.

I love being gay

I love gay people.

How can I say this without offending everyone else, I think we're better than other people.

I think we are smarter.

I think we are more talented.

I think we are more aware.

I think we make better friends.

I think we make better lovers.

I think we're more tuned in to what's happening, tuned into the moment, tuned into our emotions, and other people's emotions.

Yes, I think that gay people are better than other people.

I think the only thing we are not so good at is fighting back.

I hear talk of the new generation of gays and the old generation of gays, and how different we are. That is not true. We are all one generation. We are all related. We are all each other's brothers and sisters. We are all one family, the gay family.

And I passionately and desperately want all my brothers and sisters to stay alive and well and on this earth, with total equality with every straight person.

Being gay is the most important thing in my life.

I love being gay. I hope you do, too.

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Bob Summersgill | September 23, 2009 5:18 PM

Larry Kramer’s speech appropriate for 20 years ago, but not today.

The language of fighting and calls for protests are indicative of being out of power and ignored by policy makers. If you aren’t being heard by the people making the laws that affect you, then you go to the streets and disrupt business as usual. Twenty years ago, Larry Kramer led protests and formed organizations to do just that. We have much to thank him for.

Today, gay people hold elected offices; our concerns in most of the country are taken seriously and addressed. We are making progress faster than ever before. We win elections, we get laws passed, and more and more, anti-gay discrimination is seen as ignorant and boorish, as well as illegal.

Kramer uses the language of battle. This is misplaced. In D.C. we—and our allies—write the laws and set the political stage. It is our opponents that are shouting, protesting in the street, and making threats. Rev. Jackson lost the fight over marriage equality years ago, and has just found out about it. We wrote the law preventing referendums and initiatives from violating our rights under the Human Rights Act. We made the marriage laws gender-neutral, we wrote the laws granting all the rights and responsibilities of marriage to domestic partners and then recognized same-sex marriages form other jurisdictions. And we passed all of those laws unanimously because we worked with and befriended politician after politician and helped them and most of the citizens to see equality as basic human rights. We don't scream or shout. We don't hold protests anymore. Why should we? We are winning.

We are in power in D.C., and our political power is spreading across the country: state-by-state, city-by-city, and person-by-person. Things aren’t perfect, but they are improving. We are winning by using the political process, not fighting it.

I obviously believe mr summersgill is wrong. i am not out to lunch because i am older than he is. i travel the country. i stay in touch. i see what is happening. he stays in washington and doesn't see. that has always been the problem with our people in washington. they don't see. they just want everyone to be friends. well, we are not here to make friends. we are here to get our rights. and these people in washington are not obtaining our rights, no matter what he says to parry this fact. the things we could not have twenty, thirty years ago we still cannot have. i cannot leave my estate to my partner without it being all but taxed out of existence. how's that for inequality. we cannot show affection in public without fear of bodily injury. ditto. i will take to my grave my firm conviction that the only kind of action that gets us anywhere is direct action. ACT UP did not invent it. it goes back to the ancient Greeks and Romans. Read your Herodotus. Larry Kramer