June 14, 2022
Urvashi Vaid was a champion of many social issues, and as her obituary in the Washington Post observed, she connected the dots on issues of gender, class, race, and sexuality long before the idea of intersectionality was a “thing.” Those of us in Maryland and the Washington DC area may have first heard of her when she served as the executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force here in Washington from 1989 to1992.
She devoted much of her energy to AIDS funding and research and was known as the sort of person you always want leading your cause – able to see what was happening and what was needed. Her book, “Virtual Equality: The Mainstreaming of Gay and Lesbian Liberation” (1995), pointing out that the gay rights movement should be working for fundamental change, not mere tolerance.
It’s hard to imagine, reading tributes that have been published since her death on May 14, that one person could have accomplished everything she did. Many have written about how her activism and example changed their lives.
She was a graduate of Vassar College, earning her bachelor’s degree in 1979, and earned her law degree from Northeastern University in 1983, She worked as an attorney at the ACLU. wrote, taught, and spoke out at marches and conferences. She is survived by her wife, Kate Clinton on Manhattan, two sisters, and extended family.
We are richer that she was one of our early leaders, and poorer now that she is gone.