To know Urvashi Vaid was to have a life-changing experience.
That’s a common thread that runs through remembrances of the legendary LGBTQ+ activist, who died of cancer May 14 at age 63.
Vaid’s résumé was impressive by any standard. She spent a decade with the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (now the National LGBTQ Task Force), rising from media director to executive director, and cofounding its Creating Change conference. She was executive director of the Arcus Foundation, a global funder of LGBTQ+ causes; the force behind LPAC, the first lesbian super PAC; cofounder of many other social justice groups; and most recently president of the Vaid Group, dedicated to equity, justice, and inclusion.
But that’s just part of the story. She was an acclaimed author (Virtual Equality, Irresistible Revolution) and eloquent public speaker as well as an early advocate of intersectionality in the LGBTQ+ movement. And she was known for arguing that LGBTQ+ people needed fundamental social change, not just a place at the table. Those who knew her recall her ability to persuade and inspire — and her sense of humor.
“Urvashi Vaid was a shining leader, a friend with a smile and a hard-rock lover,” musician Melissa Etheridge recalls. “My coming out in 1993 was very much the result of our friendship and her guidance. She brought me into the world of brilliant, powerful LGBTQ+ human beings working to bring peace to our community. She was a dear friend and will be lovingly missed.”
Vaid “had an intensity of focus that was thrilling to experience,” remembers Lorri L. Jean, a former Task Force executive director and now CEO of the Los Angeles LGBT Center. “Urv was a natural leader who was followed and greatly respected by many other leaders, myself included. I’ll never forget when she came to my house in Hollywood in 2001 to try to convince me to consider leading the National LGBTQ Task Force. I experienced the full power of Urvashi’s persuasiveness. I gave her countless reasons why it wouldn’t work or wouldn’t be a good idea. Next thing I knew, I was running the Task Force!”
by Trudy Ring
Source – The Advocate