Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin had nothing but good things to say about Larry Kramer despite the legendary activist and author’s blasting of HRC in a recent interview.
‘Larry is a real hero to me and I have great, great respect for him,’ Griffin told Gay Star News at the HRC Dinner in Los Angeles on Saturday (14 March). ‘We don’t necessarily always agree on everything but he is a true legend and there are few in this world that I have more respect for than Larry Kramer.’
In an interview with The Advocate published last week, The Normal Heart author and ACT-UP co-founder called HRC ‘a crock of shit.’
‘Because they got a lot of money and what do they do with it? There is no other model except fighting back. Fight. It’s not anything you negotiate; it’s a thing you threaten. “If you don’t do X and Y, we won’t do X and Y.” That’s how you get power. We don’t have power, and I don’t see any organization that has any power.’
HRC is the largest LGBT civil rights advocacy group and political lobbying organization in the US. It lobbies Congress and state and local officials for support of pro-LGBT bills, and mobilizes grassroots action amongst its members.
When Kramer co-founded (ACT UP) AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power in 1987, it was during the desperate days of the AIDS pandemic.
The group held die-ins and sleep-ins, and even managed to shut down the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) for a day. They negotiated successfully with a major pharmaceutical corporation, affected state and national AIDS polices, and pressured health care insurers to provide coverage for people with AIDS.
‘Once we got it together, we learned how to threaten, and play the good cop/bad cop business, which I had learned in the movie business!’ Kramer said. ‘Every organization should have both, a good cop and a bad cop. And the good cop makes the initial negotiation, and if it doesn’t work, you send out the bad cop to fight. We are not good fighters, gay people.’
Griffin, who founded the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER) to overturn California’s Proposition 8 gay marriage ban, became president of HRC in 2012.
He defends HRC’s work past and present.
‘What I can do is talk about the great work that this organization has done for 35 years and still does today,’ he said. ‘I’m proud of where we are as a movement today, I’m proud of where this organization is. We’ve made a lot of progress but we have a very long ways to go.’
But he is mindful of the contributions of Kramer and others.
‘All of us who are in this movement today stand on the shoulders of giants and there are few giants that have done more for this movement and for LGBT folks than Larry Kramer.’