Harry Wieder fought for civil rights by teaching people about pride.
Whether he was advocating for gay rights with the group ACT UP, writing lengthy and humorous emails about the city’s transportation policies, or instructing his friends to “get down on your knees and hug me,” Wieder was unapologetic in his demands.In his 57 years of life, Wieder fought many battles for equal rights and respect as a gay, disabled, Jewish dwarf. He was remembered as a four-foot giant with an edgy sense of humor and a persistent presence in society’s cultural, educational and political institutions. His work often focused on New York City’s transportation network, which enabled Wieder to access his activities.
Wieder passed away in late April after being struck by a taxi as he left a meeting of Community Board 3 in his Lower East Side neighborhood. He was a longtime member of the board. Friends and politicians held a memorial for Wieder at The Cooper Union May 20.
Weeks later, friends hung a pair of white crutches on a metal pole where he was struck, joining him with the Ghost Bikes project that memorializes bicyclists killed by vehicles. The crutches are a symbol of inclusiveness, linking street safety for all people the same way Wieder brought disparate groups and causes together in his life.