Urvashi Vaid

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Urvashi Vaid
Urvashi Vaid The Laura Flanders Show 2014.jpg
Vaid in a 2014 interview
Born (1958-10-08) 8 October 1958 (age 62)
Alma materVassar College;
Northeastern University School of Law
Known forCivil rights and anti-war activism
Notable work
Virtual Equality (1996)
Partner(s)Kate Clinton

Urvashi Vaid (born 8 October 1958) is an American LGBT rights activist, lawyer and writer. An expert in gender and sexuality law, she is a consultant in attaining specific goals of social justice. Vaid has held a series of roles at the National LGBTQ Task Force. She is the author of Virtual Equality: The Mainstreaming of Gay and Lesbian Liberation (1995) and Irresistible Revolution: Confronting Race, Class and the Assumptions of LGBT Politics (2012).

Early life[edit]

Vaid was born in New Delhi, India, and moved to the United States at age eight with her family. At age 11, she participated in the anti-Vietnam war movement.[1] At Vassar College, she was active in a variety of political and social causes. She received a J.D. degree from Northeastern University School of Law in Boston in 1983, where she founded the Boston Lesbian/Gay Political Alliance, a non-partisan political organization that interviews and endorses candidates for political office and advocates for Boston's gay community.[1]


Vaid is CEO of the Vaid Group LLC, which works with social justice innovators, movements and organizations to address structural inequalities based on sexual orientation, gender identity, race, gender and economic status.

She was the Director of the Engaging Tradition Project at the Center for Gender and Sexuality Law at Columbia Law School from 2011 to 2015. The project focused on the way tradition is used in movements for gender and sexuality to inform, enable or limit the movement.[2] Vaid spent ten years working in global philanthropic organizations, serving as Executive Director of the Arcus Foundation (2005-2010) and Deputy Director of Governance and Civil Society Unit of the Ford Foundation (2000-2005).

Vaid is the founder of LPAC, the first lesbian Super PAC, which was launched in July 2012. She serves on the Board of Directors of the Gill Foundation, which is dedicated to achieving equal opportunity for all, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity. She is founder of The Vaid Group, a consulting practice that advises individuals and organizations working to achieve social justice in a wide range of fields.[2]

For more than 10 years, Vaid worked in various capacities at the National LGBTQ Task Force (NGLTF), the oldest national LGBT civil rights organization; first as its media director, then as executive director, and as director of its Policy Institute Think-tank. From 1983 to 1986, Vaid was staff attorney at the National Prison Project of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), where she initiated the organization's work on HIV/AIDS in prisons.[2]

Political activism[edit]

Vaid believes that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) equality will only occur when the larger institutions of society and the family are transformed to be more inclusive of racial, gender, economic difference.[3] Her book Virtual Equality: The Mainstreaming of Gay and Lesbian Liberation (1995), which won a Stonewall Book Award in 1996,[4] makes an argument that mainstreaming sexuality into the status quo is not the same as transforming societal institutions to make them more equitable. Her book Irresistible Revolution: Confronting Race, Class and the Assumptions of LGBT Politics (2012) critiques the racial and gender bias of mainstream LGBT movement and continues her argument that engagement with social justice is what will enable all parts of the LGBT community to realize equality and justice.

Vaid at the 1993 National LGBTQ Task Force's Creating Change Conference

Vaid became Executive Director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force in 1989.[5] She pushed gay issues into the public eye through coordinated media manipulation and staged numerous protests on such subjects as abortion and the Persian Gulf War. Vaid left NGLTF in December 1992 and wrote Virtual Equality (published in 1995). She returned to NGLTF from 1997-2000 as the director of its think tank, the NGLTF Policy Institute, where she initiated work on Racial and Economic Justice, religious and faith organizing, and social science research.

Vaid worked for five years at the Ford Foundation, and served as Executive Director of the Arcus Foundation[6] from 2005 through 2010.

Vaid has served on the board of the Gill Foundation from 2004-2014.[7]

In April 2009 Out magazine named her one of the 50 most influential LGBT people in the United States.[8]

After the release of her book Irresistible Revolution: Confronting Race, Class and the Assumptions of LGBT Politics (2012),[9][10] Vaid told Curve magazine that her biggest fear was that LGBT communities would get preoccupied by the wins in the fight for marriage equality and slow down their movement. She argued for a more inclusive movement, one that would encompass everyone regardless of race, class, ethnicity, age, or ability.[11]

Vaid hopes that the future of LGBT communities will accomplish two things. "One is to take care of the parts of our community that are less powerful. That means low-income LGBT people, transgender people and our community's women, whose rights are getting the crap kicked out of them, parts of our community across the board -- kids, old gay people" and "The second thing I would love to see happen is for the LGBT community to use its political power and access to create a more just society for all."[12]

Personal life[edit]

Vaid shares homes in Manhattan and Provincetown, Massachusetts with her partner, comedian Kate Clinton.[13]

Vaid is an aunt of Alok Vaid-Menon, a transgender activist and performer.[14]



  • Vaid, Urvashi (1996). Virtual Equality: The Mainstreaming of Gay and Lesbian Liberation. Anchor Books, Doubleday. ISBN 0-385-47298-6.
  • Vaid, Urvashi; John D'Emilio; William B. Turner (2002). Creating Change: Sexuality, Public Policy, and Civil Rights. Stonewall Inn Editions. ISBN 0-312-28712-7.
  • Vaid, Urvashi (2011). Dan Savage; Terry Miller (eds.). It Gets Better: Coming Out, Overcoming Bullying, and Creating a Life Worth Living. Dutton. ISBN 978-0525952336.
  • Vaid, Urvashi. (2012) Irresistible Revolution: Confronting Race, Class and the Assumptions of LGBT Politics. Magnus Books. ISBN 978-1936833290

In popular culture[edit]

Her name appears in the lyrics of the Le Tigre song "Hot Topic."[25]


  1. ^ a b "Urvashi Vaid Biography". American Immigration Law Foundation. Archived from the original on 2007-03-24. Retrieved 2007-04-11.
  2. ^ a b c http://urvashivaid.net/wp/?page_id=2
  3. ^ "The Politics of Intersection". Retrieved 2007-10-18.[dead link]
  4. ^ "Stonewall Book Awards". American Library Association. Archived from the original on 2007-04-07. Retrieved 2007-04-11.
  5. ^ "Urvashi Vaid to Join Arcus". Arcus Foundation. Archived from the original on 16 July 2011. Retrieved 30 November 2010.
  6. ^ "Board and Staff". ArcusFoundation.org. Archived from the original on 2009-10-03. Retrieved 2009-10-11.
  7. ^ "Urvashi Vaid". GillFoundation.org. Archived from the original on 2013-04-08. Retrieved 2013-06-05.
  8. ^ "Power 50: Urvashi Vaid". Archived from the original on September 29, 2011. Retrieved 2013-12-05.
  9. ^ Earle, Talia (March 13, 2014). "Book review: Irresistible Revolution: Confronting Race, Class and the Assumptions of LGBT Politics, by Urvashi Vaid". Rainbow Round Table Book and Media Reviews. Retrieved 2021-01-20.
  10. ^ Kerr, Theodore (2012-11-04). "'Irresistible Revolution: Confronting Race, Class and the Assumptions of LGBT Politics' by Urvashi Vaid". Lambda Literary. Retrieved 2021-01-20.
  11. ^ http://www.curvemag.com/Curve-Magazine/Web-Articles-2013/Irresistible-Revolutionary/
  12. ^ "Urvashi Vaid Talks Future of LGBT Equality and Being Honored by GLAD (AUDIO)". Huffington Post. 2014-10-17.
  13. ^ "Urvashi Vaid". glbtq.com. 2005-12-21. Archived from the original on 2007-04-19. Retrieved 2007-04-11.
  14. ^ Alok Vaid-Menon, "WHEN REPRESENTATION ISN’T ENOUGH: WHY ALL OF US AREN’T PROUD", 4 June 2014. Accessed 9 September 2020.
  15. ^ [1]
  16. ^ [2]
  17. ^ [3]
  18. ^ [4]
  19. ^ [5]
  20. ^ [6]
  21. ^ "Irresistible Revolution: Confronting Race, Class and the Assumptions of LGBT Politics | Awards & Grants". www.ala.org. Retrieved 2021-01-20.
  22. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-10-20. Retrieved 2015-10-14.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  23. ^ "GLAD / Events". Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders. Archived from the original on 2015-05-09. Retrieved 2015-05-30.
  24. ^ [7]
  25. ^ Oler, Tammy (October 31, 2019). "57 Champions of Queer Feminism, All Name-Dropped in One Impossibly Catchy Song". Slate Magazine.

Further reading[edit]

Gambone, Philip (2010). Travels in a Gay Nation: Portraits of LGBTQ Americans (Living out : gay and lesbian autobiographies). University of Wisconsin. ISBN 9781101972342. OCLC 940731853.

External links[edit]