A Critical Dialogue with Dean Spade, Urvashi Vaid, and Rosamond S. King
This is an extraordinary moment for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) movement. Electoral gains, a pending Supreme Court argument, a friendly national Administration, a community that seems to be more out, and gains in public opinion all attest to significant change in the status queer.
Yet, a critical look at the movement’s goals, practices, institutions, leaders, and arguments suggests the narrative of triumph is incomplete. Two of the leading critical thinkers and activists in the LGBT movement -- Dean Spade and Urvashi Vaid -- meet in a provocative conversation moderated by academic, performance artist, and activist Rosamond S. King to ask and answer key questions about today’s queer practice.
Does a politics pursuing equal rights produce freedom or an accommodation to neoliberal economic and political norms? Why does the LGBT movement ignore structural racism? Has queerness bound itself to nationalism and anti-feminism in order to be normalized? How can the structure of the civil rights organization form itself be democratized? Where are the new practices of organizing, cultural expression, and resistance?
Three veteran queer activists and scholars tackle these critical questions as they explore how the movement could be transformed to serve the interests of all parts of the queer communities.
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Urvashi Vaid is Director of the Engaging Tradition Project at the Center for Gender and Sexuality Law at Columbia Law School. She is the author of Irresistible Revolution: Confronting Race, Class and the Assumptions of LGBT Politics (Magnus Books, 2012), and Virtual Equality: The Mainstreaming of Gay and Lesbian Liberation (1995). Vaid was Executive Director of the Arcus Foundation, Deputy Director of Governance and Civil Society at the Ford Foundation, and former Executive Director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. She blogs at http://www.urvashivaid.net/.
Dean Spade is an Associate Professor of Law at Seattle University School of Law and a Visiting Scholar at Columbia Law School’s Center for Gender and Sexuality Law from 2012-2014. In 2002, Spade founded the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, a nonprofit law collective that provides free legal services to transgender, intersex, and gender non-conforming low income people and people of color. Spade is the author of Normal Life: Administrative Violence, Critical Trans Politics and the Limits of Law (South End Press, 2011).
Rosamond S. King is a critical and creative writer and artist teaching in the English Department at Brooklyn College. Her scholarly work focuses on Caribbean and African literature, sexuality, and performance, and has been published in numerous academic collections. King's community and professional service has included being a board member of the Audre Lorde Project and the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies. She is also a poet, artist and performer whose poetry has appeared in more than a dozen journals and anthologies, and who has performed around the world. She is currently organizing Yari Yari Ntoaso: Continuing the Dialogue – An International Conference on Literature by Women of African Ancestry (Ghana, May 2013).