I first encountered his plays when I was 14 or 15, living in the Bible Belt of Texas, where I was completely in the dark about the AIDS epidemic other than just tabloid headlines. His words changed my life. He stood up and said, “We are worthy of love and we are worthy of respect and demand what we need to survive because we are human beings like you.”
I certainly loved him and loved my time with him. I was wrecked on Wednesday, I have to be honest — between Mart Crowley and then Terrence McNally and now Larry, I just feel like so many of my heroes have departed, it really hit me hard. Larry is one of those people who you didn’t know even when he wasn’t in the best health — I just always figured he’d live forever, I guess.
I know his work will stand the test of time and will be around for as long as theater is being produced, and I‘m so grateful that I got to be a part of the film and to share that experience with Larry, something that I’ll never forget. And Mark Ruffalo captured so much of Larry in his performance: his boldness, his volatility, his tenderness, it’s all there on film. It will be around for people to see for generations.
We all owe Larry a great debt of gratitude. His anger, his call to arms, his tireless advocacy and his paternal influence on so many lives stirred the government to take notice and educated so many of us, myself included. As a co-founder of ACT UP and Gay Men’s Health Crisis, he saved lives.
The Larry I knew stood in stark contrast of the clips I’ve seen in How to Survive a Plague. There was still fire, there was a tenderness and an incredible wit and work ethic. He was so curious about so many people and their lives and who they were, and I think that’s the real testament of him as a human. He’s a hero, he’s an icon, but we needed his anger, we needed that clarion call, we needed to be roused to action. Anger can be incredibly motivating.
Every time I walk past his apartment in New York I’m always going to wave and I’m eternally grateful I got to work with him and know him.
A version of this story appears in the June 3 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.