I watched The Normal Heart on HBO and loved every minute of it. Finally, after decades, Larry’s dream of getting it to the screen is fulfilled. And beautifully done.
I first met Larry Kramer in the late 80’s when I was researching my book, Good Intentions, I knew him in his second act, as leader of ACT UP, which he started AFTER he was thrown out of the Gay Mens Health Clinic (which he also helped found).
ACT UP did many things but the most significant was to change the way drugs are tested in America. In its drive to speed up drug-testing to save the lives of people dying with HIV, it sped up the way drugs are tested for everyone. Even as thousands of men were coming down with AIDS and dying every day, the FDA and NIH insisted that possible treatments be tested the conventional way, over many years. They rejected appeals to change their methods until ACT UP put tremendous public and private pressure on them.
An underground drug treatment underground was created by the gay community to test drugs and speed treatment. The Community Research Initiative–CRI- tested new, alternative drugs.
Larry led the fight against the NIH to change and speed up its drug-testing procedures. And, in the end, he succeeded. The treatments available today, promising a normal life for normal hearts, is due in large part to Larry’s angry pushing and shoving.
I haven’t read Good Intentions for many years but I did today in preparation for The Normal Heart movie. The stuff on ACT UP is pretty ggod. And the cast of characters in the book are wonderful. Not many are still alive, except for Larry, but they are all heroes. They helped save their community–and all communities.