Since the decade to lift the ban on gays in the military, the emergence of gay conservatives, and the onslaught of antigay initiatives across America, the gay and lesbian community has been asking itself tough questions: Where should the movement go? What do we want? In Virtual Equality, veteran activist Urvashi Vaid tackles these questions with a unique combination of visionary politics and hard-earned pragmatism.
The gay rights movement, by pursuing an incremental, civil rights strategy of tolerance and mainstream integration, has paradoxically won for homosexuals only ``virtual equality,'' a second-class status disguised as acceptance, charges Vaid, former executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. In a thoroughgoing critique, she calls for a resurgence of gay activism to end discrimination at all levels, urging the creation of a nationwide federation unifying state and grassroots organizations, as well as a computerized network to train gay and lesbian leaders. Lawyer and activist Vaid wants the movement to adopt a new ethic that will regard the closet as ``immoral'' and ``intrinsically evil''; nevertheless, she rejects outing as morally indefensible. She cautions activists to distinguish Pat Robertson, David Duke, Pat Buchanan and others whom she labels homophobic ``supremacists,'' those who would impose their version of Christianity on society, from the broad conservative middle. Her manifesto includes a frank discussion of fund-raising, racial and gender divisions within the movement and the impact of AIDS. Author tour. (Oct.)