BootLeg Betty

Judith Light On Herself, Bette Midler, And Elizabeth Taylor At The Height Of The AIDS Crisis

This Light of Ours: Judith Light Reflects On LGBT Advocacy & How the Gay Community Taught Her To Be Courageous
‘It Was the LGBTQ Community That Inspired Me To Be the Kind Of Person I Wanted To Be’
BY CHRIS AZZOPARDI
Originally printed 12/10/2015 (Issue 2350 – Between The Lines News)

PicMonkey Collage

At the time, there weren’t a lot of celebrity allies stepping up to the plate. Bette Midler, Elizabeth Taylor, yourself. What did that feel like for you?

You know, it wasn’t something of what it felt like. It was the thing that had to be done. And Bette was amazing, and Elizabeth Taylor was amazing. None of us were thinking at that time, “I’m doing important work.” We were thinking, “This is what should be done, what has to be done.” It was, “Get to work everybody. People are dying in droves, and we’re losing an entire generation of people.”

We lost so many people in the theater. Broadway Cares / Equity Fights AIDS was on the frontline for years helping people. We were losing people in droves in the theater community – in every community! It wasn’t even a question. People would come out and tell their families that they had AIDS and their families disowned them. So it wasn’t what you thought about. You went to the hospital because they were dying and nobody was there with them. You didn’t think about it. It wasn’t a thought process. It was an emotional human response to an epidemic where there was no help forthcoming. And I mean, who’s more creative than the gay community? So everybody got together and said, “OK, we’re gonna put on a show and raise money, and we’re gonna create the AIDS rides like Dan Pallotta did and we’re gonna raise millions and millions of dollars because this is our family.” I took my lead from the community. They were the leaders. To me, they’re still the leaders.

When this community knows that, as they did at the height of the AIDS pandemic, they will become even more powerful than they are now. It is this community that got same-sex marriage to happen. It is the devotion to the work, and this community has done it. This community has done this. So that’s why I say I took my lead from this community. This is a community I respect and look up to and honor.

You know, we’ve always considered you to be family.

Thank you and I appreciate that, and that’s why when I get to do a show like “Transparent” I get to talk about this with you. We get to talk in a much more powerful, prominent way about the transgender community, which has been too long in the shadows, and it’s time. It’s really time.

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