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Thanks, Liz. You’ll always be a hero to me

Front (L-R): Sandy Gallin, Hollywood talent agent, Elizabeth Taylor, Larry Fortensky, Elizabeth Taylor’s eighth husband. Back: Barry Perkins, Anton Cruz and Trent St. Louis

It has already been more than a year since the passing of Elizabeth Taylor (March 23, 2011). Although she was of my mother’s age and generation, she managed to stay in the limelight her entire life. There are many things that were extraordinary about Elizabeth Taylor. But the one thing that the LGBT community needs to be aware of is the fact that she was greatly supportive of our community and helped raise millions of dollars for AIDS research and programs.

Elizabeth Taylor is probably best remembered as a big movie star with a career that stretched over a period of many decades. She was one of the highest paid, most sought after and biggest box office draws during her movie career. She had a beauty that was internationally admired and she was always in the spotlight for one reason or another. She was married eight times to a variety of men, ranging from movie stars to construction workers and from politicians to millionaires. She also was one of the first and most successful businesswomen to launch a line of perfumes and other accessories. Even after her death, her White Diamonds perfume alone brought in an estimated $70 million last year. But the most important, rewarding and beneficial work she has ever done was through her philanthropy.

When AIDS first hit the scene in the early 1980s it was a devastating blow to our community. Gay men were dying at an alarming rate and nobody was able to do anything about it. To add to the horror, there started to be a very negative stigma attached to AIDS. It was considered the “gay disease” and at the time it was considered a shameful thing to have. It was also a death sentence and because so little was known about it people were afraid to come in contact with anyone who had it. Nobody seemed to be able or wanted to help, including the government. Well, this is when our hero, Elizabeth Taylor, came on to the scene and became our spokesperson and started fighting for us and our causes.

Elizabeth Taylor became an AIDS activist and helped establish The American Foundation for AIDS Research (AFAR), which is dedicated to the support of AIDS research, AIDS prevention, treatment, education and the advocacy of sound AIDS-related public policy. In addition, she founded The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation (ETAF), which raises money for many different AIDS service organizations worldwide. Through her work, she has raised millions of dollars that has gone directly to countless, wonderful organizations. The L.A. based Project Angel Food was one of the many organizations that Elizabeth Taylor supported and was a board member of. Through Project Angel Food, over the years, I had the special opportunity to work on many events and fundraisers where I would watch Elizabeth Taylor in action. She would come to an event and people were simply in awe of her. The world loved her and she used her celebrity status and popularity to educate and to get people involved in the cause. I remember one event in particular I was at with her, where she had invited about 20 of her close friends for a small intimate fundraiser. This event was to benefit Project Angel Food and was at the Beverly Hills home of one of Elizabeth Taylor’s friends. As her rich and famous guests started to arrive at this elegant compound, my job as a Project Angel Food volunteer was to simply greet the guests and, when it was time, collect donations from them. After the lavender-eyed beauty did a little socializing with everyone she then stood up and announced that it was time to “give”. She then personally wrote out a $100,000 check to Project Angel Food and then asked that everyone else make a generous donation. Well right after that, checks were being written by people like David Geffen, one of the founders and owners of DreamWorks, Aileen Getty, granddaughter to oil tycoon John Paul Getty, Sandy Gallin, one of the biggest talent agents in Hollywood, just to name a few. It was a pretty amazing and successful night for Project Angel Food, but for Elizabeth Taylor it was just another night of work for her, on her philanthropic journey. For the last 30 plus years of her life, Elizabeth Taylor was totally committed to her philanthropic work. She has touched the lives of millions of people worldwide and has helped make this planet a better place to live. Last year, Elizabeth Taylor’s fortune was estimated to be a billion dollars. After her death, much of her fortune was donated to The American Federation for AIDS Research, The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation and many other wonderful charitable organizations. For this and for all the work that this incredible woman has done, we shall be forever thankful.

You may wonder what all of this has to do with real estate. Well, maybe not a lot. But it is important that we know and remember that Elizabeth Taylor has spent more than three decades raising millions of dollars for AIDS research and programs and has directly helped create a positive image for our community internationally, which has ultimately given us a much higher level of general acceptance, compassion and respect. So for that, I thank her from the bottom of my heart.

Trent St. Louis is a licensed Real Estate Agent and a member of the National, California and San Diego Association of Realtors. You can reach Trent at SpecialAgentTrent@gmail.com or at his office in Hillcrest, 619-300-1621. The Metropolitan Group (CADRE#01273643).



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Posted by LGBT Weekly on Mar 22, 2012. Filed under Top Highlights. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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