Famed playwright Terrence McNally, a four-time Tony Award winner, died on Tuesday at age 81 due to complications from the coronavirus.
McNally, often regarded as “the bard of American theater,” is known for works like “Ragtime,” “Master Class,” “Love! Valour! Compassion!” and “Kiss of the Spider Woman.”
He was a lung cancer survivor who lived with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, per Broadway News. McNally died at a hospital in Sarasota, Florida, according to Deadline.
The recipient of the 2019 Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre, he is survived by his husband.
McNally was credited with bringing gay representation onto the stage, including exploring the HIV/AIDS crisis in pieces like “Mothers and Sons” and others. He lost his then-longtime partner, fellow playwright and AIDS research activist Gary Bonasorte, to AIDS-related lymphoma in 2000.
Last year he was asked in a New York Times interview if coming out as gay “required a special temperament” when he did so in the 1950s.
“It required the temperament to say, ‘This is who I am. I want to be Terrence McNally,’” the playwright responded.
“And my life has made me who I am. So, I didn’t think of writing as a gay man as brave,” he added. “I respected the playwrights and artists who chose to remain closeted, but it angered me. I thought it was morally wrong not to stand up and say, ‘Hey, I’m one of them.’”