Today we honor and celebrate a community organizer, writer and attorney who has been a leader in the LGBT and social justice movements for nearly three decades. Vaid was born in New Delhi, and moved to the United States at age eight with her family. At age 11, she participated in the anti-Vietnam war movement. She attended Vassar College and received a law degree from Northeastern University School of Law in Boston. While at Northeastern, 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.
Throughout her career, Vaid has worked with a number of LGBT and social justice organizations, including the Gill Foundation, the Arcus Foundation, the Governance and Civil Society Unit of the Ford Foundation, the National Prison Project of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and Engaging Tradition Project at the Center for Gender and Sexuality Law at Columbia Law School. She is perhaps most associated with the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF), the oldest national LGBT civil rights organization; she has worked as its media director (7/86-7/89), then as executive director (8/89-12/92), and as director of its Policy Institute Think-tank (1/97-1/01).
Vaid fully understands the intersections of oppression. While working at the NGLTF she received some pushback from the LGBT community for engaging with other communities, including anti-war and pro-choice work. She persevered despite this criticism, believing that engaging with allies on their issues is a critical part of the success of any movement. She believes that true liberation of lesbians and gays from injustice will only occur when the larger institutions of society and the family are transformed through lesbians and gays working within mainstream groups for inclusion and change.
In recent years, she has focused on her own Vaid Group, a consulting practice that advises individuals and organizations working to achieve social justice in a wide range of fields. She lives in Manhattan with her partner, comedian and author Kate Clinton.