50 years in 50 weeks: 1994, Pedro got real

  • by Jim Provenzano
  • Thursday September 16, 2021
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50 years in 50 weeks: 1994, Pedro got real

1994 was a big year for LGBT arts. The first TV adaptation of Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City made its U.S. premiere and was previewed in our January 6 issue. Tongues Untied director Marlon Riggs' expansive obituary was published in the April 7 issue.

Poet Eileen Miles' Chelsea Girls was reviewed on September 15, and New York City-based performers David Drake and John Kelly graced the cover of the March 31 arts section when they performed locally.

But perhaps the brightest —yet sadly briefest— star to shine was in Season 3 of The Real World, produced by MTV. Pedro Zamora not only came out as the third gay or lesbian participant in the SF-shot third season of the series. He also came out as having HIV.

In Alan Frutkin's interview in the July 28 issue, Zamoras, who worked in youth HIV outreach, said, "I thought it would be really great to bring those issues out. I felt I could break a lot of stereotypes that people have of gays, and of people with AIDS."

With Zamora's boyfriend Sean Sasser, also HIV-positive, included in many episodes, the couple broke new ground for Latino and Black gay representation.

Zamoras died on November 11, 1994. The November 17 obituary quoted President Bill Clinton, who stated, "In his short life, Pedro educated and enlightened our nation. He taught us that AIDS is a disease with a human face and one that effects every American, indeed, every citizen of the world."

Sean Sasser died of a non-HIV-related lung disease on August 7, 2013.

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