Start Time: 04:08
End Time: 09:08
LGBT activist Larry Kramer recalls his undergraduate career at Yale during the 1950s. They may not have been the best years of his life, but he's happy to return to Yale now and see how much his alma mater has changed.
Publish Date: Jun 09, 2021
LGBT activist Larry Kramer recalls his undergraduate career at Yale during the 1950s. They may not have been the best years of his life, but he's happy to return to Yale now and see how much his alma mater has changed. According to Kramer, Yale is now "The Gay College," and hosts a dance for more than a thousand gay men and women every year.
I knew I was gay. I think from the day I was born and I think that there had been, I, I now know that there were, there were experiences all through before I even got to Yale and they were all covert and guilt inducing on, on everybody's part. So it seemed as if all those early years were spent trying to deny these feelings. The feelings would sort of get too strong and erupt and I would have an experience which would ought to always make me feel guilty in one way or another and then you put it, you become Vesuvius would calm down for a while a week, a week or two and Yale was awful. There was a gay bar called Pirelli's. It was just awful. The time when I finally had the courage to go there and it was only two blocks from campus, but it was a million years away. It was very dark and gray and inside and smoky and filled with older men. And uh, I only went to once and somebody took me up and car drove for it was like hours before we found a place that was quiet to do it. And then he drove me back. Where? You didn't say a word all of that? How did you try to kill yourself? I ate 200 aspirin. Oh my God. Talk about slow and miserable death. You must have been pretty miserable to swallow 200 you must be even more miserable after. Did you just wanted out? Was that? Who knows? It's a scene I'll never forget. Mm The scene of taking the pills at the scene of waking up and finding you're still there. I didn't wake up. I went to I went to bed and I got scared and I called the campus police and they came and took me to the hospital and put my stomach and I was in awoke then I fell asleep and I woke up in a room with bars and at the Grace New Haven Hospital. And there was this very unpleasant hospital psychiatrist who said all right Mr Kramer why did you do it? And I said go fuck yourself or words to that and said that. And he said you're not going to be let out of this hospital until you tell us why you did it. And I said I just had a he rubbed me the wrong way and I wouldn't have told him. Who knew? Who knew why I did it anyway so my brother was always sort of looked after me, came and got me out and he was friends with Dean of freshmen. My brother had been to jail before me and and it was you know ordinarily when something like that happened you were shipped off to go join the army really in those days. Yeah. And then you can come back to Yale when you've sort of grown up. But they let me stay if I went to university psychiatrist, his name was dr fry clement fry and he was about in the sixties, he had silver hair and it was a good looking man. He was reptile in his button down shirt and you just knew that he cared more about Yale and he ever did about you. And and I told him of this experience that I had had of, I had been invited to go to the room of two of my freshman year, two guys freshman year that I had met. Uh and they somehow mercifully had found each other and they were living in this room and I was invited for tea or something and I walked into this room and the room, you know how awful freshman your rooms are. Well, they had done their room and it was painted all black and there was uh everything had been taken out of the room except you know, low mattress which was black or and there was a perfect coffee table with with a rose in a vase that was spot lit in another born. And Mabel Mercer is playing on the phonograph. Right? So I described this dr fry and dr price reaction was, I don't I wouldn't see those guys anymore if I were you. And that's what yeah, it was like and that's what going to psychiatrist was like. So, um and there wasn't, there wasn't a local gay student group for you to call. I love going back to Yale now and this is my real yards to give up how far we've come. Even though I'm always yelling about how we've not come far enough, I go back to Yale and Yale is like the gay college now and there's a dance every year for well over 1000 gay men and women.