What Elizabeth Taylor Meant to DC

Elizabeth Taylor will always be remembered for her violet eyes and striking beauty, and here in DC…

… She will also be remembered for fighting the good fight. The legendary actress and style icon was an activist for HIV and AIDS before it was cool. In 1993, she accepted DC City Councilman Jim Graham’s request to name the Whitman-Walker Clinic on 14th and R Streets Northwest after her.

Taylor not only attended the dedication ceremony and signed autographs for the VIPs and clinic’s staff, but she also spent two days after the event meeting with patients and literally touching the lives of Washingtonians living with AIDS.

At the end of her visit to Washington, Taylor ended up donating $50,000 to the clinic. (Read more in “Remembering Taylor’s DC Contributions”)

Elizabeth Taylor Whitman Walker

A makeshift memorial outside the Elizabeth Taylor Clinic on 14th & R Streets NW (Photo courtesy: Whitman-Walker)

I recently visited the Whitman-Walker Clinic while working on a story about HIV/AIDS in the Washington region for my day job at the TV station. While I was in the community outreach director’s office I noticed an autographed picture of Taylor that was framed and hung high on a wall overlooking a carton condoms, dental dams and safe sex pamphlets.

“That’s an unlikely place for the image of a screen legend,” I thought. So I asked the outreach director, “Is that signed photo of Elizabeth Taylor real?” He replied with a sly smile, “Oh yeah, and she was real, too.”

I’ve always been fascinated by beautiful people and I have always been captivated by Elizabeth Taylor (I remember begging my mother to buy me White Diamonds at the tender age of 9 after seeing her dramatic TV commerical for the scent back in the ’90s).

However, when I realize how she stood up and supported a cause in the 1990s that – at the time – was seen as a shameful illness, I have even more respect for her. Taylor was not only rich and famous and beautiful, she was also a responsible citizen – a real stand up kind of girl.

Now that’s something we could all stand to see more of, don’t you agree?

Rest in peace Elizabeth Taylor… you will be missed.

xoxo,

Markette

Markette Black and White

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