Legendary Hollywood actress Elizabeth
Taylor was a vocal AIDS and gay rights advocate.
Taylor was laid to rest at a private
service on Thursday after her death at the age of 79 in a Los Angeles
While she was best known for her
larger-than-life movie roles, she devoted nearly 30 years of her life
raising awareness and funds for AIDS research.
Taylor became a leading advocate for
AIDS research after the 1985 death of actor Rock Hudson from AIDS
complications. She helped create amfAR, one of the world's leading
non-profits dedicated to ending the disease.
“I did not become an activist to win
awards,” she said in accepting a GLAAD award in 2000. “I became
an activist to try to protect people. I could not sit silently by
just doing nothing. I started my activism in the 80s when a new
disease emerged that was quickly and inexplicably killing people.”
“Worse than the virus there was the
terrible discrimination and prejudice left in its wake. Suddenly gay
people stopped being human beings and started becoming the enemy. I
knew that somebody had to do something.”
“All my life I've spent a lot of time
with gay men – Montgomery Clift, Jimmy Dean, Rock Hudson,” she
added. “I never thought about who they slept with. They were just
the people I loved.”
“I could never understand why they
couldn't be afforded the same rights and protections as all of the
rest of us. There is no gay agenda. It's a human agenda.” (The
video is embedded in the right panel of this page.)
Taylor was an activist till the end,
leaving the bulk of her estate – worth at least $600 million – to
two AIDS charities, amfAR and the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation.