Elizabeth Taylor by Richard Avedon in 1964

Elizabeth Taylor, who died in a Los Angeles hospital on Wednesday at the age of 79, has been remembered for her support of the gay community and for her work against the scourge of AIDS.

The English-born Taylor began her acting career as a child star, went on to win two Academy Awards for best actress and became known for her tempestuous eight marriages and her love for expensive jewellery. In 2000, she was named a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire, by Queen Elizabeth II.

The stunningly beautiful actress epitomised a by-gone era of Hollywood glamour and stardom and was widely regarded as a gay icon.

In later life, Taylor spent much of her time as a social activist, championing the cause of AIDS awareness and research. She is credited with having raised more than $100 million to fight the disease and helping to found the American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR) after the death of her friend, the gay actor Rock Hudson.

On Wednesday, amfAR mourned Taylor’s passing. “She leaves a monumental legacy that has improved and extended millions of lives and will enrich countless more for generations to come,” the organisation said.

Sir Nick Partridge, Chief Executive of the Terrence Higgins Trust in London, also praised Taylor as “the first major star to publically fight fear and prejudice towards AIDS and she did it with reason and compassion.”

The staff at The Abbey, the Hollywood gay bar which Taylor liked to occasionally visit in recent years, erected a candle-lit shrine to the actress and will serve special cocktails to raise funds for her AIDS foundation.

Meanwhile, the notorious anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church has said that it will picket Taylor’s funeral.

“No RIP Elizabeth Taylor who spent her life in adultery and enabling proud f-gs. They cuss her in hell today. Westboro will picket funeral!” tweeted Margie Phelps, daughter of Westboro Baptist Church founder Fred Phelps.

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