An attorney, Vaid is a nationally acclaimed leader with more than 15 years of experience in the gay and lesbian movement. She is one of the co-founders of the annual Creating Change conference, which remains the only national gay political gathering in the United States, and was one of the organizers of the 1993 March on Washington. Vaid also helped to organize the gay and lesbian community's presence at the 1988, 1992 and 1996 political conventions. In 1991, she was voted Advocate magazine's Woman of the Year, and in 1994, Time magazine named her as one of the 50 key leaders under 40 in the United States, and one of the 100 key leaders internationally.
Vaid is also the author of the award-winning book, Virtual Equality: The Mainstreaming of Gay and Lesbian Liberation, in which she argues that the status of gays and lesbians is one of "virtual equality," or a conditional acceptance based more on appearances than on actual civil equality. Published in the fall of 1995, Virtual Equality was the winner of the American Library Association's Gay Nonfiction Book Award in 1996 and was a finalist for the 1996 Lambda Literary Award.
A graduate of Northeastern University School of Law, Vaid also has served as a staff attorney for the National Prison Project of the American Civil Liberties Union and is responsible for initiating the project's ongoing work to support inmates with HIV and AIDS.