Sunday, May 29, 2011

A White Diamond Tribute for Elizabeth Taylor at the Castro Theatre

Elizabeth Taylor had not received much in the way of thanks from the HIV/AIDS community in San Francisco that she helped so much until the night of May 27 at the Castro Theatre. Taylor Juel conceived of the benefit for Project Inform and Aaron Baldwin worked with him to coordinate the stage presentation to honor Taylor and commemorate the 30th year of AIDS.

Usually shirtless with muscles bared at street fairs and leather parties, Baldwin causes almost pathological staring by gay men and the air pressure around him seems to triple.

Project Inform works to find better treatments and a cure for HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C, and helps people access information to make decisions about their health care.

The event was called a White Diamonds Tribute for Elizabeth Taylor, which referred to her White Diamonds perfume. Ads for the scent featuring Taylor in moody tropical scenes are shown in TV ads every December holiday season for the last couple years. Juel let some guests know that love was in the air at the event. His new lover was pouring the champagne that was raised in toasts to actress Taylor and he was taking Juel away to live in a Seattle love nest the next day.

Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence Pat N Leather spoke about his despair when he found out that he had AIDS. His despair changed to hope when Elizabeth Taylor spoke out for a cure for AIDS and for compassion for infected people. Leather challenged the large audience to be the activist that Taylor was and make a difference. Then Project Inform Executive Director Dana Van Gorder spoke about an upcoming concentrated drive to find cures for HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C in the next ten years. He said that the infections that enter 59,000 people's bodies in the U.S., and 1,000 in San Francisco every year, have to be stopped and the technology to do that is becoming possible.

Openhouse Executive Director Seth Kilbourn spoke about the overwhelming persuasive power of Eliabeth Taylor at his organization’s recent luncheon. He was a young Capitol Hill intern who watched Taylor approach curmudgeon homophobic legislators in the early 1980s and saw that their opposition to her requests for AIDS melt as she shook their hands and smiled at them. That is the kind of personal attention that Pat N Leather and Dana Van Gorder expressed when they looked out into the theater throng and spoke optimistically of a better future.

No comments: