Pedro Zamora, AIDS Activist
b. February 29, 1972
d. November 11, 1994
“As gay young people, we are marginalized. As young people who are HIV-positive and have AIDS, we are totally written off.”
Pedro Zamora was an AIDS activist who appeared on MTV’s reality series “The Real World.” As the first openly gay and openly HIV-positive person on a television series, he brought national attention to HIV/AIDS and LGBT issues.
Zamora was born into poverty in Havana, Cuba, the youngest of eight. The family lived in a small house with a dirt floor.
When Zamora was 8, he immigrated to Florida with his parents and two of his siblings as part of the Mariel boatlift. The family settled in Hialeah, Florida. Zamora’s mother died when he was 13. He threw himself into schoolwork and extracurricular activities. An honors student and captain of the science club and cross-country team, he became one of the school’s most popular students.
Zamora learned he was HIV-positive after donating blood. He decided to pursue a career as an AIDS activist. In 1993, he testified before Congress, arguing for the improvement of AIDS education programs.
In 1994, Zamora joined the cast of MTV’s “The Real World: San Francisco.” Soon after moving into “The Real World” loft, he fell in love with another HIV-positive AIDS activist, Sean Sasser. The two men exchanged vows in a commitment ceremony in the loft.
The day after the final episode of “The Real World: San Francisco” aired, Zamora died of AIDS-related complications. After his death, he received praise from President Clinton for his leadership in AIDS education and for raising awareness about the disease.
In 1995, a street in Miami was renamed Pedro Zamora Way. In 2008, “Pedro,” a feature film, honored his life.