Philippine Daily Inquirer / 02:30 AM July 03, 2011
“Gay men helped keep her alive for the last 10 years. And the gay community kept her stardom alive. They made her an icon at a time when a lot of people didn’t care.”
One of Elizabeth Taylor’s friends told Vanity Fair that in the very interesting story, “Elizabeth Taylor’s Closing Act,” in the June issue of the magazine.
Taylor died at 79, last March 23 of complications from congestive heart failure. Her death marked the end of an era ruled by Hollywood goddesses who were, in fact, bigger than life. Beyond her Oscars and iconic acting career, Taylor was known for her seven marriages, and her fabulous jewelry and art collections (her parents, who were in the art gallery business, were gifting her Manets, Matisses as early as her youth).
But the Vanity Fair article by Sam Kashner is one of the rare pieces on Taylor to dwell on her age-old bonding with gay men.
He wrote: “Elizabeth had always been drawn to gay men, since developing a close friendship with Montgomery Clift, in 1949, on the set of George Stevens’ ‘A Place in the Sun.’ The press gushed at the possibility that these two incomparably beautiful beings might marry—but even as an 18-year-old, inexperienced with men, Elizabeth sensed instinctively that Monty ‘knew that he was meant to be with a man, not a woman…’
“…With Rock Hudson, whom she got to know well on the set of the George Stevens movie ‘Giant,’ she shared a love of chocolate martinis. Such intimate friendships were, perhaps, the only way that Elizabeth, the object of so much desire, could relax in the company of men.”
In the last years of her life, Taylor would hang out in the gay bars of West Hollywood, notably Abbey. She was discouraged though from making it to the Halloween party at the Abbey—“because ‘there were just too many people. The Abbey was wall-to-wall. I said, ‘Elizabeth, it’s just not safe. If you show up, there may be a riot. And, anyway, there are six of you here already!’ It was true. The patrons had come dressed as Cleopatra, as Maggie in ‘Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,’ and even Martha from ‘Virginia Woolf.’ So she didn’t show up.”
But beyond bonding with gays, Taylor would be remembered for helping turn the tide in the worldwide fight against AIDS. At a time when government institutions and society were in denial that such a scourge existed and was decimating a sector of society, Taylor spoke about it upon the death of her close friend Rock Hudson, of AIDS, and led legislative battles for funding research on the ailment.
The Vanity Fair article quoted an AIDS activist—‘Elizabeth Taylor was one of the few things we had we could leverage for support. She was deeply committed. She knew what she brought to the table. ‘People will pay good money to see how much I weigh or what color my eyes are,’ she said.”