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Cameron Diaz Talks Her Early AIDS Activism and Cousin’s Death From Disease at LA LGBT Center Event

Cameron Diaz says she jumped into helping people with HIV/AIDS after watching a family member die from the disease.

“My dad’s cousin, in the early 80s, died of AIDS. He was one of the first. He lived in San Francisco and I remember my parents going up to San Francisco because he was dying,” the actor recalled during an Instagram Live appearance with the Los Angeles LGBT Center for Giving Tuesday. “It was in the very, very beginning. There was no treatment. Everybody was scared and my dad wanted to go be there for him.”

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Diaz went onto to become an early supporter of AIDS Project Los Angeles.

“I’ve always felt so heavily supported by the LGBTQ community just because, by nature, there’s this connectivity to creativity,” she said. “So I’ve been a part of that community since I was very, very young. Growing up in the 80’s, it was a time that was pivotal for the community to start to really find their voice and demand to be seen. And needing to be seen. I started with AIDS Project [Los Angeles] from inception, because I knew people in the community who were suffering from AIDS. And it was a real rally for everyone to support.”

Gwyneth Paltrow also appeared on the Instagram Live session, remembering how she was surrounded by gay men during her childhood because of the Broadway career of her mother, Blythe Danner.

“Our house was full of gay men singing around the piano, kissing,” the Oscar winner said. “I didn’t know that people thought there was something wrong with being gay. It was very shocking to me when I came to understand that.”

Paltrow also reflected on learning about trans women of color from watching her producer husband, Bad Falchuk, work on “Pose.”

“The trans community is so small. They’re not threatening our children and our minds and our education,” she said. “We need to find our humanity there. We need to be accepting and let people choose to live the life that they want to live.”

Paltrow’s trainer recently came out to her as transgender. “The other day, they came in, and I hadn’t seen them in a while. They were just so much lighter. And I said, ‘What’s going on with you?’” she said. “And they said, ‘I’m transitioning.’ And I got full of chills and tears in my eyes because their whole energy had shifted. They had this peace in their soul. It was so beautiful to see. So I really hope that people can connect more with that.”

Moderated by the center’s Phillip Picardi, the Live event also welcomed “RuPaul’s Drag Race” star Katya, who announced she’s currently writing a children’s book.

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