Larry Kramer talks with Calvin Trillin: New Yorker Festival 3 October 2015

by Carene Lydia Lopez on October 4, 2015

There are some days when you think, “How great is it to live in NYC?” This was one of those days – two interviews at the New Yorker Festival and then dance performances at Fall for Dance.

The first interview was Larry Kramer talks with Calvin Trillin. Kramer (writer and AIDS activist) and Trillin (writer) were Yale classmates and are long-time friends and you could see that they enjoy being in each other’s company.

Trillin began by listing Kramer’s works and when Trillin mentioned “Faggots” he stopped and asked Kramer if he was surprised by the negative response that the book received from the gay community. Kramer said that there is not a gay community but a gay population. An important distinction.

Wherever Trillin took the conversation, Kramer frequently brought it back to the AIDS crisis – according to Kramer the plague is out of control with five million new cases every year in the world. After an audience question about Truvada (a pill that’s been effective in preventing HIV when taken after risky sex), there was a discussion about the rise in STDs in the gay population. Kramer also said there needs to be more activism about whatever you are passionate – you need anger and fear to protest and it’s valuable even if it’s only one person.

Trillin kept the mood light despite the heavy subjects (There’s an old Texas saying: One feather is erotic. The whole chicken is not.) And he also had one of the best responses when an audience member also from their Yale class asked why the people of their class weren’t activists. Trillin said it was an age of tremendous prosperity for whites and the men were competing against only half the population since a lot of women were not in the job market.

Trilllin asked Kramer about his book, “The American People,” Kramer went on about Washington and Hamilton being in love with each other and it is because of Washington’s love of Hamilton that his government was Hamiltonian instead of Jeffersonian. Also, Kramer stated that Hamilton was raised by two gay men. Trillin asked the obvious – “How do you know that Washington was gay?” Kramer answered – “How do you know that he wasn’t?” Kramer insisted that more research needed to be done. For instance, Mark Twain was surrounded by male friends and Kramer’s research insists that the men around him were gay, therefore, Twain was gay. “The American People, Vol. II” is now in draft form.

There were two clips shown – one from a documentary about Kramer and another from the HBO version of “A Normal Heart.” Kramer has written a sequel and said Ned Weeks will be in it again because once you have Mark Ruffalo play you, you want that to continue.

Whether you agree with him or not, Kramer is an interesting interview.

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