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.