This morning we all heard the sad news of the death of 79 year-old Elizabeth Taylor. The web has been deluged with obituaries and memorials of the film legend, who was once a longtime friend to the late Michael Jackson. We were reminded not only of her acting accomplishments but also of her tireless fight against HIV/AIDS.
If you live near or have ever walked down the 14th Street corridor between U Street and Logan Circle, you have no doubt passed one of Taylor’s legacies. The Whitman-Walker Clinic named their treatment facility after Taylor in 1993; she even attended the dedication ceremony. The Clinic’s Executive Director Don Blanchon released a statement today which reads in part, “At a time when most Americans thought of HIV/AIDS as something that didn’t affect them, her commitment to the issue and considerable star power helped to take the fight against HIV/AIDS right into the mainstream of American society. Her dedication to raising money along with awareness has helped to save countless lives both by helping to treat people living with the virus and by preventing new infections.”
Washington, D.C. has one of the highest HIV/AIDS rates in the country, and the care provided by the Whitman-Walker Clinic — regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or HIV status — is invaluable. Aside from paid positions, the clinic also depends on volunteers that “provide millions of dollars’ worth of services annually.” Tonight, I had planned to attend volunteer training at the DC Center, the GLBT community center on 13th and U Streets. I may swing by the Elizabeth Taylor Medical Center and ask if they need volunteers, too. It is the best kind of legacy anyone could leave behind: the inspiration to service.
The Whitman-Walker Elizabeth Taylor Medical Center is located at 1701 14th St., NW Washington, DC 20009 and can be reached at 202-745-7000. The DC Center for the LGBT Community is located at 1318 U Street, NW Washington, DC 20009 and can be reached at 202-682-2245.