The Evolution of Gay TV Characters
Pedro Zamora, “The Real World” (1994)
Pedro Zamora, "The Real World" (1994)
By 1994, gay characters had been increasingly written into scripted TV shows. But for some Americans, Pedro Zamora of "The Real World" was the first real homosexual man they had ever been exposed to. On the show that was known for telling the true story of seven strangers who were picked to live in a house and have their lives taped, no one was ever more real than Zamora.
Not only was he openly gay, but also Pedro had been
diagnosed with HIV when he was just 19 years old. Five years later, he signed up for "The Real World." The young
AIDS educator quickly showed his roommates and the world what it meant to be HIV-positive. Despite frequent battles with the show's resident bad boy, David "Puck" Rainey, Zamora made friends, fell in love with San Fran local Sean Sasser, and became an accessible advocate for the sensitive subject.
Sadly, just one day after the season finale of "
The Real World: San Francisco" aired, Zamora passed away in a Florida hospital. MTV honored his legacy in the special "A Tribute to Pedro Zamora." His co-stars Judd Winick and Pam Ling, who ultimately married, co-founded the
National Pedro Zamora Foundation in his honor, along with Mily Zamora and Sasser.