Remembering Urvashi Vaid

Urvashi VaidBy LPAC
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On Saturday, May 14, LPAC’s Founder Urvashi Vaid passed away. We have lost a fierce fighter and friend. Urvashi’s activism, vision, and determination changed the progressive movement and improved the lives of marginalized people across the United States. We are heartbroken by this loss and will miss Urvashi deeply, but will look to her example as we continue to strive for equality and social justice. Our hearts are with her partner Kate Clinton, her family, and everyone who knew and loved her.

You can read an obituary from The Washington Post here. We would also like to share a few remembrances of Urvashi from those of us at Team LPAC.

LPAC Board Chair Laura Ricketts:

Urvashi was a bold, brilliant, strategic and innovative advocate and activist. She was a community builder and a movement maker who inspired all of us to do more because we all deserved more. When she didn’t inspire us, she pushed and pushed and pushed us to do more. I have never met anyone with more passion and drive, and all for a better, more just and equitable world. She was unapologetically direct and unreservedly candid, always true to herself and speaking her truth, never shying away from conflict or afraid to stand up for what is right. Being a more reserved and diplomatic Midwesterner, I think this is what I admired most about her. She was also very loving with a whip smart sense of humor. Urvashi is a legend and a treasure. The impact of her legacy is immeasurable. I feel blessed to have known her and to have learned from her, and honored to have worked alongside her.

LPAC Executive Director Lisa Turner:

It goes without saying that Urvashi Vaid was a powerhouse activist and advocate. She was also kind, and generous in complimenting those around her. I cannot think of a time when I was in a room with Urvashi when she didn’t say something validating about me or my work and why I should be sitting at the table. Some of the most meaningful and important work I have done on behalf of social justice is because Urvashi opened a door and pushed me into uncharted waters. I will be forever grateful to have been in her orbit.

LPAC Board Member Alix Ritchie:

To be in a world without Urvashi is almost inconceivable – even for those of us who were marching along with her in her fight with cancer. And I say marching, because that is what she did – about almost everything, but especially for the equality of LGBTQ people and very specifically for women, gay or straight. I remember avidly discussing the ideas about bringing more lesbians to the table when political decisions are being made about their lives and their relative invisibility in the LGBT world – all of which led to the creation of LPAC. Urvashi was unrelenting in pushing all of us to be better, to just get more done. And we are all better for having been pushed! We have all been blessed by having Urv in our lives, and none more than Kate, who deserves every bit of love we can send her way right now.

Former LPAC Board Member Diane Felicio:

There was nothing like seeing Urvashi “in action.” Her entire self: body, eyes, voice, and soul were transformed. Urvashi, the message, the action, the cause became one. That was one of her many superpowers – she would use herself, in her entirety, to grab us, to make us look and see the injustices she refused to ignore, to propel us into action. It was a privilege for me to sit around the same table as Urvashi, to learn from all that she embodied, to share the floor with her at LPAC events, and to have countless one-on-one discussions as we crafted the future of LPAC. It is impossible for me to chronicle all that I absorbed from Urvashi, but I know this, anytime I think I am fighting hard for transformational change, I know I have to fight harder, because she would. She would always do more.

Former LPAC Board Member Emily Giske:
I got a call from Urvashi out of the blue and she suggested starting a new PAC, which eventually would became LPAC. I told her “let do this!” Urvashi made LPAC happen. A call from her was a calling card for good, exciting, important work. Urvashi was excellent at making things happen for the good of our community.

LPAC Board Member Hilary Rosen:

Some lives are worth honoring. And some lives are worth celebrating. Urvashi Vaid’s life was both. We met as baby activists during the AIDS crisis in 1983 (I think). I was a little conservative for her. She thought I spent too much time on Capitol Hill and I thought she spent too much time protesting in the streets. I understood how to pass legislation and manage issues. She understood and taught me and so, so many others “movements.” How to motivate the unmotivated. How to create a moral imperative. How to confront with both intensity and sweetness. I always admired her fearlessness – her willingness to make people uncomfortable for the cause. We needed that. Few people have had as much impact on the LGBTQ movement both in front of and behind the scenes as Urvashi. She had an idea a minute on how to push forward – how to tackle the challenge of inequality from another angle – how to create new alliances. She did it all with pure joy – her famous mischievous grin. I am so privileged to be one of the many many people with whom she shared her gifts. Rest in Power Urv. You left us too soon and there is work to do. We will not give up the fight until the dream is true for all.

Former LPAC Board Member Joyce Newstat:

Urvashi was always the board colleague you needed to stop and listen to. She led with brilliance, strong opinions and a very clear North Star. She always knew where she thought LPAC was going and she stayed clear-eyed on the road to lesbian equality. Deep bows of gratitude and admiration for her.

Former LPAC Board Member Linda Ketner:

In 1989, I was attending a conference in DC when this diminutive woman walked to the podium and lit the room, and me, on fire with her passion and intelligence. I was later blessed to know Urv and Kate as friends. Urvashi made you think – deeply; act – loudly; care – always; and never, ever give up. A heroine, a teacher, an incomparable leader, a great mind, a visionary, a warrior, and my friend. We were blessed to have her and the world is darker without the light that was Urvashi Vaid.

LPAC Board Member Maureen Guthman:

What an amazing woman who taught us how to fight. On a personal note, Urvashi interviewed me to be on the LPAC Board. It was her clear sense of purpose, drive and urgency that made me want to be part of the LPAC Team and ultimately gave me the opportunity and privilege of working with all of you and for the LGBTQ community. For that, I am truly grateful to Urvashi.

LPAC Board Member Rennae Stubbs:
She was the best of all of us! Fight on ladies, that’s what she would have said! Fight #%*ing on! Miss you Urv and thanks for showing us all the way!

Learn more about LPAC and their amazing work here!

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