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Yale University, ACT UP Founder Come to Terms, Endow Gay & Lesbian Studies Department
Yale University and ACT UP founder and author
Larry Kramer have established an endowment for a full-time gay and lesbian studies professor through a $1 million Kramer family donation and agreed on the donation of Kramer's papers and manuscripts, after four years of "thorny" negotiations and "accusatory" debate, the Hartford Courant reports. At a private reception at university President Richard Levin's home, Kramer, a Yale alumnus who has spoken out about the "isolation" he felt as an undergraduate, said he has "finally achieved recognition for Yale's gay and lesbian students that he had been seeking for 40 years." The announcement marks an agreement in a debate that began four years ago when the university rejected Kramer's offer of a $5 million donation to endow a full-time gay studies professorship, saying the discipline was "too narrow." Kramer, the author of such works as the novel "Faggots" and the play "The Normal Heart," accused Yale of "homophobia" after the university rejected the offer. The new deal gives Yale's Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library Kramer's papers, covering both his literary and activist works, and Kramer's older brother Arthur, also an alumnus, will donate $1 million to hire a full-time executive coordinator for the newly created Larry Kramer Initiative for Lesbian and Gay Studies. The new agreement does not include any funds directly from Kramer, but he said he has not "ruled out such a possibility" (Overton, Hartford Courant, 4/3). Kramer, who is suffering from advanced liver disease, made the initial offer in 1997 after learning he was HIV-positive. He said that he is not currently prepared to leave his estate, valued in the millions, to Yale, but said he is "no longer dismissing the idea," adding that he has "no specific criteria" for awarding his estate. Kramer said "jubilantly" last week, "A lot has changed since I made my initial demands. I was trying to cram stuff down their throat. I'd rather they fashion their own stuff. It may allow for a much more expandable notion of what lesbian and gay studies really is." Provost Alison Richard said Kramer's donation is a "unique and enduring gift" from a "seminal figure in the AIDS movement" (Arenson, New York Times, 4/2).
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