According to Joe.My.God and other press reports, Sean Sasser died of cancer-related causes this week at age 44. Sasser and Zamora were one of the first gay and HIV-positive couples to appear on television and had an impact on how countless Americans viewed these marginalized groups.
The Root analyzes the impact of Sasser's life:
But the time when discrimination based on sexual orientation and HIV status was the national norm was not so long ago: Such bias was alive and well 19 years ago, when the third season of MTV's The Real World: San Francisco introduced a gay couple, both of whom were HIV positive.
One half of that couple was Sean Sasser, who became engaged to Pedro Zamora, a Real World cast member, during the show's run. Sasser, who was black, and Zamora, who was Hispanic, became one of the first high-profile gay and HIV-positive couples -- and one of the first gay power couples of color -- represented in mainstream media. Their presence on the show sparked powerful discussions and debate on HIV awareness and education, same-sex marriage and a host of other issues that are regular parts of the national discourse today but were not in 1994.
When I was growing up in a conservative part of Texas, Sasser and Zamora represented my first exposure to seeing a gay couple living their lives just like everybody else. I know I'm not the only one. Watching them strive to build a life together is one of my earliest memories of beginning to contemplate the idea that same-sex couples would want the same things that most couples do.It's great to see another appreciation of that season of the The Real World: San Francisco and to see the names Pedro and Sean again.
Hat/tip to Joe.My.God.