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Playwright Larry Kramer (left) at the time of the production of his groundbreaking AIDS play The Normal Heart in 1985. With Kramer is Rodger McFarlane, former executive director of the AIDS service organization Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC).

Edmund White is a master stylist whose works encompass both fiction and nonfiction. Many of his early works deal with the joy and liberation of gay sex; among these are The Joy of Gay Sex: An Intimate Guide for Gay Men to the Pleasures of a Gay Lifestyle (1977) and States of Gay Desires: Travels in Gay America (1980). Throughout the AIDS crisis, in many articles and interviews, White remained an advocate for a continued free gay lifestyle. While Kramer’s works often ask gay men to consider the consequences of their lifestyles, White’s interviews urge gays to resist retreating from sexuality because of the disease. In his short story “Skinned Alive” (1995), White discusses the AIDS epidemic from this angle.