Sunday, March 27, 2011

‎"Every breath you take today should be with someone else in mind. I love you." Dame Elizabeth Taylor



Elizabeth Taylor ... late to her own funeral. Goodbye beautiful lady.

 AIDS became a diagnosis in '81. Maybe. Gay men were dying quickly, horrible deaths. Fashion houses just decimated of their handsome young men. Adriano Gianelli had left Armani for Biagiotti but it didn't help. He was only sick for six months before wasting away to his death. It was ugly and people were terrified because there was no clear understanding of how it was contracted. Mosquitoes, a kiss, drinking from the same glass, a vacation in Haiti, a bathhouse ... 

By the time of Rock Hudson's death from AIDS, there was no treatment and no research funding. Jerry Falwell screeched that AIDS was God's punishment while Ronald Reagan ignored pleas for funding. Dame Elizabeth sidestepped the deep rampant fear and disgust for the "Gay Plague" stepping into the void, knowing that the media would follow. Her commitment and willingness to drag others with her to the '85 Aids Project LA Commitment to Life and raising money to form amFAR with Dr. Mathilde Krim's AIDS Medical Foundation along with David Geffen and Dr. Arnie Klein changed AIDS from the hopeless death sentence over years of well-funded research to a chronic disease that many could manage and live with.

Tina Chow sat across me from at The Ivy on Robertson shortly after her return from Japan. She'd been hospitalized there with pneumonia and still looked frail, her beautiful eyes too large for her face. I'd had pneumonia that summer after spraying my roses with something toxic and breathing it in. Her eyes were wet and wild. "I've got AIDS." Without thinking, my own hand covered my wineglass, wondering for a second if the alcohol would kill the virus. She understood and sat back. I stopped and reached for her hand because she was my friend. She died at home in '92.

It's hard to put together what happened to Angelo, my roommate. Janice Dickenson had sent him to rehab and then he came to live with me. He'd been sober for years, visited his friends with AIDS in the hospital and tested every few months to just make sure. Having avoided dentists for years, he relented only as horrid toothache forced him into treatment. He kept a few sober friends around who watched as his dentist visited him at home, giving him shots for an infection. The dentist visited nightly that week, sticking Angelo each time.

 Angelo's Jaguar was still in the garage we shared, remnants of the perfume he'd sprayed lingering in his car. I found him sprawled on the floor with a needle nearby, unconscious. An ambulance came quickly taking him to a hospital. An overdose, maybe some nerve damage from lying so awkwardly. He came out of it and asked me to bring a sweater to him from his closet, his voice sloppy and thick. Rummaging around his closet,  a prescription slip crisp and white, abandoned in a drawer. It was for AZT, the first and only drug then for AIDS.  Angelo had AIDS. He'd said he wouldn't live with AIDS, that he wouldn't stay sober but would go on the binge of his life. He'd shaken his head and laughed. It was unthinkable that he'd do that but he did. Alone at the end.

"Every breath you take today should be with someone else in mind. I love you."   Dame Elizabeth Taylor's last tweet.


19 comments:

  1. What a touching and very sad story. I'm so sorry about your friend...

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  2. I'm still angry ... just a few more months and he'd still be perfuming his car.

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  3. I am sorry for your lost. This story of yours touched me a lot.

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  4. and I have to tell you your blog is very beautiful and inspiring and that I am enjoying in every second of reading of your words

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  5. Thank you ... there were so many losses and so much fear and Elizabeth Taylor made such a difference in the world, besides being one of the most beautiful women ever. All those love affairs and all those movies.

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  6. And I love yours ... the wonderland of fashion, yes!!

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  7. Thanks for telling these stories. I've been working on a post forever about the early days of AIDS...I might have to send you some questions.

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  8. Back then .. the "Gay Plague" was making doctors and dentists refuse to treat patients with the marks of Kaposi's Sarcoma or other signs. Way Bandy hid under weils.

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  9. Oh my, I'm so sorry for your pain!
    Elizabeth Taylor was a trailblazer and remarkable for taking a stand at a time when AIDS was still a terrifying mystery to most.
    cupcake
    xo

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  10. so beautifully and thoughtfully written...brings me back to my early twenties..losing amazing friends.. young men..so full of promise.too quickly and so painfully..so quickly that our heads were spinning with a lack of understanding of what exactly was going on...timothy patrick murphy, david oliver and the amazingly wonderfully human being..patrick lippert.. amazing how far we have come..what a difference she made...xoxo

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  11. Losing friends ... I have a picture of a dinner party of eight or nine. Three came down with AIDS.

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  12. Losing friends like that must be very painful.
    What a good tribute to Elizabeth Taylor. She stepped out and did the right thing.

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    Please e-mail me your mailing information so we can send it out.
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    Liz@dovecotedecor.com

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  14. OMG, #winning .... thank you thank you thank you!!!

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  15. Oh heavens, this made me weep. I rarely think about how it was way, way back in the very early days. It was ugly though, and riddled with so many secrets, because telling the truth often brought responses worse than the illness. All I remember of one friend's death was the horror with which he was treated by former 'friends', forget the family members.

    For me there is beauty amid the ashes of this post, thank you for your always spot-on writing.
    tp

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  17. That last tweet is so beautiful. I dearly love(d) Elizabeth. She was a true star, personally and professionally.

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