Out of frustration that I was stuck home last night due to circumstances (babysitting my nephew. Cute yes, on a Saturday night not so much), I was flipping through my channels when I saw that MTV was doing a Real World marathon of their three biggest seasons (New York Season 1, San Fransisco Season 3 and Las Vegas Season 12). They hashtagged it with #retroMTV, and where as I don’t see Vegas being so retro the other two were and so much more. Vegas was on last night, and it was a great reminder of how great the show used to be yet somehow I see Vegas as the one that made that show “jump the shark” because they spent every season afterwards sexualizing the program as opposed to making it about 7 strangers who were trying to co-exist in one place. There is a difference there.
Today they are doing what is still considered by so many people as the best season of Real World- San Fransisco. The third season of this iconic show portrayed two of its most polarizing characters in Pedro Zamora, and David “Puck” Rainey. Two completely different men in so many ways yet made the show fascinating with their unique viewpoints and how they got to the life they had at that time in 1994. Puck was considered to be the zany outcast of the group, getting arrested on his way to going to the house and doing a number of unpredictable acts such as putting his fingers in the peanut butter as one. Something by that standards could be on Nick Junior today and no one would blink an eye, but twenty years ago this was considered ground breaking in a variety of ways.
Pedro Zamora on the other hand, couldn’t have been more of a stark opposite.
An avid educator on AIDS, he was shown throughout the show doing his lectures about his condition and how others can prevent it. Him and Sean Sasser also made headlines as one of the first gay couples to be seen on a national spotlight and in such a frank and open manner. They would up getting engaged and had a commitment ceremony in the loft that Zamora and his castmates were living in for the show.
Sadly, Zamora wound up passing away only a couple of months after filming ended on November 11th, 1994. Since his passing, he was acknowledged for his tireless efforts as an AIDS crusader by former President Bill Clinton and had several organizations named in his honor as well.
So why does he remain relevant today? It’s simple. To put it in terms only I can, Pedro stood up and spoke loud and clear about a disease that was killing millions when others cowarded and avoided the topic due to their own personal feelings about homosexuals and AIDS itself. He knew the uphill battle that he had to face and took it head on and instead of retreating and living out the rest of his life in silence he broke the mold and spoke his piece in a time where this disease was a major death sentence and viewed as globally in a terrible manner. He made people wake up and educate themselves, something that a lot of people are still having a hard time doing today.
Quite frankly, he should’ve been nominated and awarded with the Nobel Peace Prize that year. He brought a nation together and gave them an understanding of what he was going through so that each person themselves could get a better judgement on what the disease was and that beyond the disease there is a human being attached to that person. There is more to a person than HIV. He is and forever will be in people’s minds seen as a hero and he is one of mine as well for so many different reasons.