The Passion of Elizabeth Taylor
BY Jeff Yarbrough
March 23 2011 1:30 PM ET
My feeling about marriage at this moment in time is so sour that I would say to all, “You’re crazy!” But if you want to get married, get married. If you want to be stupid, go ahead, but I don’t want to hear about any of your tears.
You’ve always been very true to yourself, as opposed to following the conventional wisdom. Where does that come from?
When I was very young, the only time I had for myself was when I could get on my horse in the morning before going to the studio. I’d jump for about an hour, and I felt true freedom. It was like my spirit was at one with the trees and the sky and wind, and I could scream or cry or feel whatever I wanted to. Nobody could hear me, and nobody could tell me to shut up. I could do whatever I wanted on that horse, and then I’d have to go and be the puppet.
When I was 15, I told L.B. Mayer to go to hell. It was then that I realized I was a complete, free individual and that I loved God. I was so grateful to God for giving me all the gifts I had. And I felt free. I didn’t belong to the studio, I didn’t belong to anything — I was totally my own person. I realized I had to follow moral ethics, but I was free to be my own self as long as I didn’t hurt anyone else.
How do you feel about gay men and lesbians raising children?
I think it’s great! I’m the godparent of a little boy, Jake, who has two fathers. He’s such a lucky boy.
So you see it more as the ability of a parent to provide emotionally for a child than the traditional male-female model for raising a kid?
Well, yes. I mean, love is love — tenderness, guidance, disciplining, being supportive. Look at all the children out there that live horrible lives, and these little children that have gay parents have golden love given to them. They’re cherished little beings.
If we do find something to make AIDS more manageable, do you worry that there’ll be yet another STD around the corner to worry about?
There’s always been something around the corner. AIDS keeps mutating itself so quickly. It’s so wicked, this virus; it’s got a really malicious sense of humor, and it plays off youth and ignorance and stigma. It plays off all the things that we don’t want to deal with. That’s what makes it such a deadly disease—because it will not be trifled with. It’s “Don’t fuck with me, baby. I’m here to stay.” It’s got that kind of attitude that should really scare us. And our fear is warranted.
Do you feel that you’ve gained personal worth from the fight against AIDS? Do you feel a sense of accomplishment?
No, I feel a sense of challenge, like I can’t rest for a moment. I was sick for two years and had my hips fiddled around with, and it just made me so impatient. While I was having my hips done, I could feel an almost supernatural sense of complacency building up around me. I wanted to do something about it, but I couldn’t because I was physically incapable. But I was aware of this itch, and when I go back out again, I feel it now. It does something to my skin.
You don’t feel a sense of accomplishment about the work you’ve done?
I guess I just want more. We need so much more, and that really drives me and makes me want to goose people.
What was your reaction when you learned in Vancouver at this year’s International Conference on AIDS that the Canadian government was threatening to cut funding for AIDS research?
Right in the middle of the conference, the government sits and turns its back! And you think, How can that happen in your very midst? That can’t give you a sense of hope. But it sure makes you want to kick ass!