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Harry Wieder, an activist known for his work on LGBT rights, disability issues, and transportation accessibility, died Tuesday night when a taxi struck him as he left a community board meeting on New York City's Lower East Side. He was 57 years old.
According to DNAinfo, Wieder "was crossing Essex Street between E. Houston and Stanton streets around 9:45 P.M. when he was hit by a taxi heading north on the block, police said." Several Community Board 3 colleagues witnessed the accident and accompanied him to Bellevue Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Wieder became known in the 1980s for his work with ACT UP. He was also recognized for his involvement with the 504 Democratic Club, founded to focus on disability rights. In 2005, he was profiled in Betty Adelsen's 2005 book, The Lives of Dwarfs: Their Journey from Public Curiosity Toward Social Liberation.
A child of Holocaust survivors born with dwarfism, Wieder described himself on his Facebook page as "disabled, gay, Jewish, leftist, middle aged dwarf who ambulates with crutches." In 1991, the news magazine OutWeek called him a "militant sexual dwarf" and featured a photo of him peeking into the swimsuit of Keith Cylar, the deceased codirector of Housing Works.
"Harry Wieder was a gem -- a classic and classy New Yorker, much beloved," said Bill Dobbs, a longtime gay rights activist, in an e-mail to The Advocate.
Other colleagues and friends recalled his colorful, if combative, personality.
"Although very wonky and smart, he had a dry, sly sense of humor," said transgender activist Melissa Sklarz. "In one Democratic meeting, when someone accused [President George W.] Bush of being an intellectual midget, Harry protested saying, 'I am an intellectual midget. Bush is just stupid.'"
Services for Wieder will be held Friday in Forest Hills, Queens.