Dec. 1 was a day Joel Goldman will never forget. That was the day - World AIDS Day- that he brought Whoopi Goldberg to tears. Goldman, BS'85, helped to arrange a surprise tribute to the actress during ABC's The View when she received the Elizabeth Taylor Legacy Award for her career of advocacy. A video tribute included messages Goldman gathered from Colin Farrell and Elton John.
Did you know that a third of LGBT Americans live in the South? Or that this region is home to 44 percent of the nation’s HIV population? These statistics are especially notable considering that LGBT funders have historically directed their grant dollars to other parts of the U.S., shortchanging the South.
The good news is that there are signs that this trend is changing—with LGBT funding to the South climbing 52 percent between 2014 and 2015, according to a recent report by Funders for LGBT Issues. Among other things, community foundations in the South and Southeast have been stepping things up in terms of LGBT grantmaking.
Two national funders keeping a keen eye on the South these days are the Elton John AIDS Foundation (EJAF) and the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation (ETAF), which have been working collaboratively to support HIV/AIDS and LGBT organizations in the region. Most recently, the two foundations announced nearly a half-million dollars in grants to nine organizations in Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, South Carolina and Florida to support their efforts to advance LGBT rights and thwart the spread of HIV/AIDS.
Elizabeth Taylor’s is remembered as much for her philanthropic efforts off-screen and she is for her iconic performances.
Her family now runs the AIDS foundation that shares her name, and at Town & Country’s fourth annual Philanthropy Summit, several of her grandchildren—Naomi Wilding, Quinn Tivey, Tarquin Wilding, and Rhys Tivey—along with one of her great-grandsons, Finn McMurray, sat down with actress Judith Light to talk about her legacy.
“90-90-90 to break the AIDS epidemic by 2020.” It’s a brilliant public health strategy developed by UNAIDS that holds “treatment as prevention” at its core. The success of the strategy lies in getting people tested and on treatment so they are virally suppressed and no longer infectious. 90-90-90 is working and we are on the precipice of ending the deadliest pandemic in human history. News that the current administration is proposing significant cuts to AIDS funding globally is tragic, however, for the people around the world who will die, and for the incredible progress made. Specifically, the current budget proposes to reduce US spending on AIDS relief by about $1.1 billion out of a $6 billion budget, which comes primarily through PEPFAR, the President’s Emergency Program for AIDS Relief started by former President George W. Bush and largely credited with 15 years of steady global progress against the disease.
The State Department says that all people currently on treatment will be able to continue (how that’s possible given roughly 20% cuts was not made clear). But say that is possible, the bigger problem is that in much of the developing world, and in sub-Saharan Africa that carries two-thirds of the world’s HIV/AIDS burden, roughly half of the population is under age 15 and most new infections are occurring in youth ages 15-24. That means the fire – now nearly under control — will coming roaring back if the supply of medication for new infections runs dry. So, in other words, these cuts would not just stall progress, they would actually spark an inferno, a massive increase in HIV incidence and continued death and devastation around the world.
Mulanje is a remote rural district in Malawi consisting of 673,000 people greatly affected by extreme poverty and inadequate health infrastructure. The region’s under-resourced healthcare facilities struggle to meet high demands for care. ETAF has been funding quality village-based health services delivered by our implementing partner, the Global AIDS Interfaith Alliance(GAIA), since 2008 through a system of 5 mobile health clinics providing basic health services in areas of need selected by the government District Health Office. Last September we treated the mobile clinic program’s one millionth patient visit.
Designed to de-stigmatize HIV testing and treatment, the GAIA Elizabeth Taylor mobile clinics integrate HIV services into an array of primary care services, allowing GAIA’s medical teams to test and treat for a variety of serious, and often deadly, illnesses. Provision of basic health services reduces the stigma associated with seeking HIV Testing and Counseling (HTC) and supports our primary mission of HIV testing and treatment.
Elizabeth Taylor was an extraordinary philanthropist and humanitarian. Our family saw that firsthand back in the 1980s, when she and my father, Malcolm Forbes, became close friends. We got to know her and found her to be a witty, delightful, and thoughtful person, especially around my five young daughters.
Elizabeth was very concerned about the AIDS epidemic, which was then raging. Today it’s hard to fathom the prevailing attitudes about gay people and the disease that was mortally afflicting so many of them. “Didn’t they bring this on themselves?” was, tragically, a not uncommon response. Elizabeth would have none of it.
A violet-eyed vixen who starred in dozens of movies and took home Oscars for her performances in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf and Butterfield 8, Elizabeth Taylor was also a trailblazer, the first actress to be paid $1 million, for 1963’s Cleopatra. She was a business mogul whose fragrances have made more than $1.5 billion. She was a superstar whose every move (and marriage) was chronicled breathlessly for nearly seven decades.
But for Quinn Tivey, Taylor had a different role.
“I always just knew her as Grandma,” Tivey says. “She was the woman I could lie in bed with to chat and watch movies.”
To hear some of Taylor’s grandchildren (there are 10, and four great-grandchildren) tell it, what made the greatest impression about her wasn’t her prominence but her passion.
“We didn’t experience her as a movie star,” granddaughter Laela Wilding, a 45-year-old graphic designer, says. “She became impassioned about activism, and I can’t think of anything more inspiring than our grandmother’s compassion and determination for other people.”
More than 600 activist from across the country arrived in the nations capital for AIDSWatch 2017, held March 27 and 28. AIDSWatch brings people living with HIV and their advocates to the Capitol to meet with members of Congress and educate them on the issues affecting the HIV-positive population.
"She stood up for gay people when few others would," said Elton John of Taylor, "and she got right into the nitty-gritty of AIDS policy,"
Elton John and Elizabeth Taylor were friends and allies in the fight for LGBT equality and against HIV/AIDS. Six years after Taylor’s death, their legacy continues as the Elton John AIDS Foundation (EJAF) and the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation (ETAF) are partnering to address the HIV epidemic in the Southern United States.
Nine organizations in the region will receive a combined $485,000 in grants from the two organizations, continuing the work the two organizations have been doing for the better part of thirty years.
Town & Country is beginning its fourth annual Philanthropy Summit with a splashy list of speakers and five new sponsors.
The event, which will be held in Hearst Tower in New York on May 9, will tackle the issues of climate change, criminal justice reform, mental health, the global refugee crisis and philanthropy for arts. The summit, which is invite only, coincides with the release of the magazine’s June/July issue, which showcases 50 philanthropists. The issue, which goes on sale May 16, will feature Michael Bloomberg, John Legend and Cate Blanchett on three covers. In the issue, Bloomberg is interviewed by Yahoo’s Katie Couric, Legend is interviewed by U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D., N.J.) and Blanchett is interviewed by David Miliband.
“It really represents what is happening in philanthropy right now,” Town & Country editor in chief Stellene Volandes said of the event and magazine. “All powerful philanthropy begins with a question: What can I do?”