I mean, he won it. He fought hard for it and won it for himself: a full life. And he fought to win it for everyone else too.

Opening my copy of Reports from the Holocaust: The Making of an AIDS Activist, I go right to his 1987 speech to the Boston Lesbian and Gay Town Meeting – the beginning of Gay Pride Weekend. You want Larry, that’s where you get Larry.

… I believe this gay community of ours has a death wish and that we are going to die, because we refuse to take responsibility for our own lives… What’s the number of dead friends at which you can decide to stop just sitting quietly like the good little boys and girls we were all brought up to be – and start taking rude, noisy, offensive, political action? One? Ten? One hundred? … If I use gross language – go ahead, be offended – I don’t know how else to reach you, how to reach everybody. I tried starting an organization: I cofounded GMHC, which becomes more timid as it becomes richer day by day. I tried writing a play. I tried writing endless articles in the Native and the New York Times and Newsday and screaming on “Donahue” and at every TV camera put in front of me. I helped start ACT UP, a small bunch of too few very courageous people willing to make rude noises. I don’t know what else to do to wake you up! … “You want to die, Felix? Die!” That’s a line from The Normal Heart. In his immense frustration, Ned Weeks yells it at his dying lover. That’s how I feel about all of you… I am telling you they are killing us and we are letting them! Yes, I am screaming like an hysteric. I know that. I look and sound like an asshole. I told you this was going to be my last tirade and I am going to go out screaming so fucking rudely that you will hear this coarse, crude voice of mine in your nightmares. You are going to die and you are going to die very soon unless you get up off your fucking tushies and fight back! Unless you do – you will forgive me – you deserve to die… [Y]ou are saying that your lives are worth shit, and that we deserve to die, and that the deaths of all of our friends and lovers have amounted to nothing.

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