Mitchell Reports | July 24, 2012
>>> with the international aids conference under way in washington this week, thousands are now marching in the city, trying to raise awareness about the fight for prevention, treatment and ultimately a cure for the disease. for the past two decades, sir elton john has dedicated his life to that crusade. last night, he and secretary of state hillary clinton were honored by the human rights campaign for their dedication to ending the epidemic. today, elton john and his foundation members are meeting with senators and congress members about the importance of continued funding for the global campaign. we bring you the second part of our conversation with elton john , this time it is deeply personal about heroes of the movement, his own failings and how love helped him conquer his addictions and changed his life.
>> elizabeth taylor , she stood out at a time when nobody stood up and lambasted the government. elizabeth glazer with the pediatric aids foundation , another hero i had lunch with and lost her life and her daughter lost her life. courageous people who stood up at a time it was so unfashionable and dangerous to speak out. american government didn't really do anything or speak about it for seven years. it was like, you know, it's homosexuals, let them die. i hate to say that but it's the truth. and then the ryan white act. it took a young boy to die to completely turn people's opinions around about aids. and you know, he gave his life for aids and the ryan white act continues his name and his legacy. i hope with the work i do, it continues his name and legacy. there are so many giants. matilda crimm, who formed am-far. still around, still a vibrant woman.
>> princess diana . how important was she in destigmatizing it? the fact she would go into a hospital, take someone by the hand, hold a child, and communicate by that very act the fact that it was not communicable?
>> for a member of the royal family and probably the most popular member of the royal family at that time to go into a hospice or hospital and hold someone, to give them a kiss, was quite honestly, it was like knocking down a bunch of dominoes. it was a very, very important step. and it was a very loving thing that she did and she did it because she believed that all the nonsense written about aids was nonsense and she wanted to show that these people deserve compassion and they should show it from the highest rank of the british society which was the royal family . when she did that, it made a hell of a difference. it made a hell of a difference. it gave people hope. little things like that, it's like for example, four weeks ago, you know, we have been battling the gay marriage thing in america for a long time. hillary clinton came out, made a wonderful speech about the gay population and the gay generation and then the vice gay marriage and then the president, and then jay-z, probably the most respected african- american artist , came out and said not only is it wrong to not have gay marriage but any discrimination in life is wrong. it was an incredibly moving statement. you don't realize -- i phoned him over in england and said you have no idea what you've just said, how powerful this is. the african- american society were apprehensive about this all along. just when you get someone who is a role model like jay-z to say this, you have no idea. the dominoes fell. i take my hat off to him and i respect him so much for doing that. you know, when i next see him, i'm going to give him the biggest hug.
>> there was another turning point politically. you certainly because of his position on gay rights , were not a fan of george w. bush . there was the war, two wars, several other issues, to say the least, but you're watching, you write in your book you're watching the state of the union address , you lived in the states on and off, you've had a home in atlanta, you're watching the 2003 state of the union address . tell me about your reactions to watching george w. bush announcing the billions of dollars that he was going to ask for to be appropriated for global aids.
>> i remember jumping up and punching the air but also, at the same time, feeling that i swallowed a boiled egg. i couldn't believe it. it was just a wonderful, again, a pivotal turning point in the treatment of aids people throughout the world. and when i got my kennedy center honor and spent some time with him and rumsfeld and condoleezza rice and colin powell backstage at the interval of the concert, we had a wonderful ten minutes of conversation. he was very informed about aids. i wasn't on the same political, you know, page as him. i didn't agree with a lot of his policies. but he impressed me greatly.
>> in fact, you write that you had talked to david about not even accepting the kennedy honors award because at first you thought it would come from his administration when in fact it was coming --
>> i was very much against the iraqi war and the same feelings with tony blair in england. i was outraged we were at war but i said you know, this is about, no matter who's in power, the kennedy center awards are given, america has been so great to me, i cannot turn this down because it's my second home. i love america dearly. it's in my soul. and i did ask him, i think i put it in the book, i said what, can i do anything for you, mr. president. he said yeah, tell the french to give more money. that made me laugh so much.
>> you know, the other sense of bipartisanship, senator teddy kennedy , and when you testified, and orrin hatch for republicans and others were there who had done something in terms of getting the money appropriated.
>> of course. it's been a bipartisan effort. i testified in front of congress and i think everybody who testified that day made a great impression. i had the greatest time that morning, had breakfast with orrin hatch and ted kennedy . i met so many other people politically. i don't agree with whatever. politics is all about having a different idea on one side than the other.
>> you're so honest in the book and so revealing. how difficult was it to write about your addictions?
>> it was very -- it was very -- it was a release. i mean, i wrote about it in treatment. i had to write everything down. for the general public to read it, people said you're hard on yourself but i wasn't hard on myself in the book. i was just telling the truth. addiction is a horrible thing. it's really the most disgusting thing. the greatest thing that happened to me when i went to rehab was that when i first went to group session, and people talked about their addiction, i went oh, my god, you did that as well? the amount of shame i felt through what i did when i went to rehab, i wasn't ashamed of being a drug addict so much as i was more ashamed that i couldn't work a washing machine or make myself a piece of toast. i had become obsolete as a person. completely obsolete. that really made me ashamed. when you heard other people talking about the same things that you had and what you did, it meant that i belonged somewhere. because my sense of addiction was i didn't belong anywhere. and we must make people feel as if they belong. if they're hiv positive , they must feel as if they belong to a group of people that care about them. we should -- they should all be treated equal and they will be. i promise you that. we will make them feel part of society because unless you do that, then this disease is never going to go away.
>> tell me about zachary.
>> oh, my god. we have this little boy now who, you know, everyone said wait until you have a little child , it will change your life. well, of course it's changed our life. i have never loved anything or anyone so much in my life, nor has david . he is our reason for being now. everything that we do is now takes second place to what's good for him. he fills our world with love and joy and just watching him grow up and say daddy and papa, it's -- i sound like the only person who's had a child but you know, for me, it's been an amazing experience. i never thought i would be a father and i have now got a child and a son, and it's the greatest thing in the whole wide world.
>> how is marriage changing your life?
>> it's funny, when david and i had our civil partnership which is in the united kingdom , we didn't think it would make any difference but it did. it solidified us. david and i are like a team, we're like hand in glove. the more i get older the more i love that. with zachary now, it's just, he's the most important thing. what's most important for him. and to see him every day and to wake up and have breakfast with him, oh, my god.
>> what do you hope for for him?
>> i hope for an aids- free world , for a world that is more compassionate towards each other, and i believe that the younger generation will provide that. there's enough hate in the world. and we only hear about the hate. we don't hear about the love. recently i played the queen's jubilee concert in london. the feeling of love from 250,000 people in front of the palace that night, it was overpowering, admiration and love for someone. it's an incredibly powerful thing. to say some people don't like the word love but passion, love, it's the same thing. it's just that -- there's so much more of it in the world than there is hate. we just don't get to hear about the loving things. everybody in the trenches doing great things for people every day, acts of kindness that you never hear about. but it's only the tragedy people want to read about. and there's enough tragedy to go around, i'll admit that. but there's much more love.
>> love is the cure.
>> it is.
>> and thank you very much.