Carmen Vasquez, LGBTQ+ and social justice advocate, died of Covid-related complications on Wednesday.
Vasquez, 72, originally hailed from Puerto Rico and was raised in Harlem. She was active in multiple social justice movements over her many decades in service, fighting for LGBTQ+, women’s, and immigrants’ rights; reproductive freedom; and health care reform. She was the co-founder and Founding Director of the Women’s Building in San Francisco; the Executive Director for the National Network of Immigrant and Refugee Rights; co-founder of the Lavender Youth Recreation and Information Center; and the LGBT Health and Human Services Network, a cohort of organizations that advocate funding for LGBTQ+ health services. She is also the founder of Causes in Common, a nationwide coalition that combines LGBTQ+ and reproductive rights activism.
For her work, she was presented with the SAGE Award for Excellence in Leadership on Aging Issues at the 2020 National LGBT Task Force conference Creating Change.
“The loss of Carmen tears open a hole in the heart of the LGBTQ+, social justice, immigration, reproductive justice, and sexual freedom movements. And in mine,” said Rae Carey, the National LGBTQ Task Force Executive Director. “I’m deeply sad that one of our movement’s most brilliant activists is no longer with us. I’ve never known this movement without Carmen in it. A fierce, Puerto Rican butch, who spoke, wrote, organized, mobilized, and willed with her small but powerful body justice and liberation into this world.”
“It’s unimaginable that Carmen has passed, but the spirit of someone as fierce as Carmen lives forever and continues to inspire us,” said Michael Adams, the CEO of SAGE. “Rest in power, Carmen.”
“One of my proudest moments as an activist was presenting Carmen with the annual SAGE Award at Creating Change 2020, in recognition of her lifetime of courage, fierceness and struggle. It’s unimaginable that Carmen has passed, but the spirit of someone as fierce as Carmen lives forever and continues to inspire us. Honoring her legacy, it’s fitting that we re-name the award Carmen received last year with the name it will carry from this day forward- the Carmen Vàsquez SAGE Award for Leadership in Aging. Rest in power Carmen.”