New York City -- It was all about money at the American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR) "Honoring with Pride" event held on Ellis Island this summer. The first annual "Awards of Courage" -- bestowed inside the very chamber where waves of immigrants began their lives in the New World -- celebrated activist Peter Staley; community-based researchers Donald Abrams, MD, and Joseph Sonnabend, MD; legal dream-team Matthew Coles, Nan Hunter and William Rubenstein; Whitman-Walker head Cornelius Baker and journalist Anne-Christine d'Adesky. "I keep seeing guards everywhere," said activist-awardee Larry Kramer, training his imagination on the catwalk where guards with guns once strolled. "They're pointing and yelling 'Faggots!'" He was, of course, correct about one aspect of that -- more than 600 well-heeled gay men paid top dollar for a peek at the grand dame herself, Elizabeth Taylor, and all the wine you can drink. Kramer, who just turned 65, recently came into his own windfall: "I just got my Social Security," he told the crowd. "Who would have thought?" Fellow AARP member and former governor Mario Cuomo was paid a pretty penny to give a keynote address on AIDS activism and pharmaceutical greed. Eric McCormack, the gay-acting straight star of NBC's Will & Grace, played host and auctioned off two walk-on parts on the show for a combined total of $60,000. When one of the bidders was asked for his line of work, he replied, "I give money to amfAR." By evening's end, $500,000 had been added to the group's cash register. Cha-ching!
October 1, 2000 • By Denny Lee