Windy City Media Group Frontpage News Home
CELEBRATING 28+ YEARS OF Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender NEWS

Search Gay News Articles
Advanced Search
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2014-12-17
Download Issue
  News Index   About WCMG    Publications    Bars & Clubs     Calendar   Videos   Advertisers    OUT! Guide    Classifieds     AIDS @ 32       Marriage
 Local | National | World | Politics | Obits | Profiles | Views | Entertainment | Theater | Dance | Music | Film | Art | Books | TV/Gossip
 Travel | History | Marriage | Youth | Trans | Lesbian | Celebrations | Food | Nightlife | Sports | Health | Real Estate | Autos | Pets | Crime

DISH: SAVOR Commonwealth Tavern; Kanela; '12 Cocktails of Christmas' DISH: SAVOR

Commonwealth

Tavern; Kanela;

'12 Cocktails of

Christmas'
Roscoe Village's Commonwealth Tavern (2000 W. Roscoe Ave.; commonwealthchicago.com/) has replaced Mulligan's—and ...

Browse Gay News Index   Browse Gay News Archives
  Windy City Times    Download PDF Issue

AIDS: Pedro Zamora at 40
by Emmanuel Garcia
2012-03-28

facebook twitter pin it del.icio.us stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email


If Pedro Zamora was alive today he would have turned 40 on Feb. 29, something that was inconceivable to him at 22 when he filmed MTV's The Real World: San Francisco.

Pedro Zamora is remembered as an outspoken HIV/AIDS educator who used every opportunity he had on camera to talk about his battle living with AIDS.

"I will probably not see the age of 30. I will probably die," he told a group of students at Stanford University in a mid-season episode. He died Nov. 19, 1994, five months after the crew wrapped filming for the third installment of The Real World series.

In 1992 MTV started to experiment with the concept of unscripted programming or "Reality Television." The concept of The Real World was to room a group of seven young people in their 20s and film them in a different city. Each series brought together individuals from backgrounds that would predictably create conflict with others in the house.

Youth across America applied by sending in audition tapes for the chance to become famous from the exposure the cutting-edge cable network had. It was a new phenomena that would change television and celebrity forever. The San Francisco cast included Pedro Zamora, David "Puck" Rainey, Rachel Campos, Cory Murphy, Judd Winick, Mohammed Bilal, Pam Ling and Jo Rhodes.

Prior to moving into the house on Lombard Street, producers informed the cast that one of their roommates was HIV-positive, but none were told who.

During the first 10 minutes of the premier episode, Zamora revealed to Murphy on a train ride to San Francisco, "I'm HIV-positive." When they arrived to meet the other selected six, he told them he was living with AIDS.

It was a personal journey for the cast and for TV audiences who watched Zamora's battle with his deteriorating health.

He found out he was positive when he was a junior in high school. He said he became obsessed with the fact that he could die at any point and pushed himself to graduate early.

"When I found out I was HIV-positive, about eight months later I started doing AIDS education," he explained to Murphy.

Prior to The Real World, Pedro was actively involved in speaking out about his status. He came into the show with a scrapbook that included newspaper articles, fliers and pictures of him as an HIV/AIDS activist. It was clear from the onset that he would use this new platform to reach more people.

Pedro immigrated to Miami from Cuba with his parents when he was eight years old. At the time of filming he had been living in the U.S. for 13 years. The Zamoras left Cuba on the Mariel boatlift, along with 125,000 other Cuban exiles. He told the camera with a subtle Spanish accent, "I give thanks every day that I could live in America. I live in a place that I could say who I am and say how I feel without being reprimanded. Some are not going to agree with me, but I could still say it."

Zamora was not the only Latino cast on the show; Rachel Campos, an Arizona State University graduate also made the cut.

Campos self identified as a young Republican who was raised in a strict Catholic home. Her family was the opposite of the Zamoras, who proudly embraced Pedro's identity as a gay man living with AIDS. The Zamoras exemplified a supportive and loving family who rallied around to celebrate him at every opportunity.

The loving way that they interacted with him in each episode was the image of a Latino family that is often not seen in scripted television and film. Latinos have been historically stereotyped as conservative Catholics. For example, Latino men have been portrayed as insensitive "macho" womanizers, but the men in Pedro's family could be seen hugging and kissing him hello and goodbye. Embracing him with respect and adoration.

Initially Rachel's family worried about her living with someone HIV-positive, but that was not because they were Latino—it was a lack of education.

She invited Pedro to visit her parents in Phoenix. In that episode her mom invited him to give a talk at the school where she worked. She appeared nervous that he would talk about his queerness to the students, but felt his message was important. He stood in front of a classroom of seventh graders, behind him on the chalkboard were written the words HIV/AIDS and VIH/SIDA ( the Spanish translation ) . A boy asked, "How was the disease transmitted to you?"

"I got it through sex, I got it through unprotected sex," he replied. He never outed himself because he wanted them to understand that anyone can get HIV/AIDS.

"Every day I wake up and I say, 'I am going to go and educate my community about my disease, that's a choice I am making, but it's not something I have to do,'" he told Rachel during a confrontation. "We have a lot in common, aside from both being Latinos."

If producers predicted that Pedro and Rachel would have the biggest conflict because of political or religious differences, they quickly found out they were wrong.

Housemate David "Puck" Rainey, a biker from San Francisco, turned out to be Pedro's biggest enemy on the show. During filming Pedro was invited to talk on local TV news channels to share his story.

Rainey grew jealous of the media attention that Pedro received as part of his job as an educator. His bad attitude and antagonistic personality would seem tame today, in comparison to characters in The Bad Girls Club, Jersey Shore or The Real Housewives of Atlanta.

However nothing could overshadow what was unfolding. Pedro began dating Sean Sasser, an AIDS activist living in San Francisco. It was the first time young audiences would see an HIV couple fall in love. The two bickered over who would move where after the show ended. By mid-season Pedro's T-cell count dropped and his health began to suffer. In a trip to visit his family in Miami he got sick and was unable to get medical attention because he did not have medical insurance.

Eventually he received care, but TV audiences learned that it was not easy for a person to access healthcare. In the last episodes we saw less of Zamora. He appeared gaunt and fragile. It seemed purposeful that most of the shots were from far away. Viewers were watching him die. In the second to last episode Sean and Pedro married.

In 1994 the U.S. was still trying to understand the disease after initial political ignorance and widespread misinformation. When high-profile actors and athletes, like Rock Hudson, Magic Johnson and Greg Louganis revealed their HIV-positive status, it gave new faces to the disease, but their worldly lifestyle was perceived by everyday people to have played a role in the transmission. Still, none had humanized the reality of a person living with HIV/AIDS. Pedro's courage to tell the truth made him a pioneer.

Every revelation, every moment, proved to be a lesson: "I want people to remember my struggle as a person living with AIDS and [ the ] crap that I have to go through in my everyday life."

In 2009 the Centers for Disease Control ( CDC ) reported that Latinos represented 20 percent of new HIV infections. Three times higher than that of whites. Lack of awareness and healthcare also put Latinos more at risk.

In that same speech at Stanford University Pedro concluded, "There is not one second of my day that I am not aware that I am HIV-positive. I don't want to forget that I have AIDS and I don't want you to forget that I have AIDS. You have to understand AIDS is part of my life. It's my reality. It's who I am."

Pedro Zamora died Nov. 11, 1994 at age 22. U.S. President Bill Clinton credited Zamora for his activism, including for his testimony on the disease in front of Congress.

This story is part of the Local Reporting Initiative, supported in part by The Chicago Community Trust.


facebook twitter pin it del.icio.us stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email




Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily
agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here.
Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you
stay on this page, the more you help us.

March, vigil stress that sex workers' lives matter, too 2014-12-17
AFC webinar shows other PrEP methods may join Truvada 2014-12-17
LoBianco now at Chicago House 2014-12-17
World: London mayoral candidate; UKIP situation; Jamaican pastor 2014-12-17
National: LGBT bill in Congress; trans soldiers; blood ban 2014-12-17
ASK LAMBDA LEGAL HIV status and employment discrimination 2014-12-17
Legislators to HHS: End blood donation policy, go to risk-based policy 2014-12-15
Choucair steps down as CDPH head 2014-12-11
Report: New HIV diagnoses in Chicago falling 2014-12-10
AFC document sums up PrEP costs on marketplace 2014-12-10
VIEWS World AIDS Day and my community's ongoing struggle 2014-12-10
HIV-positive beauty queen discusses journey 2014-12-09
World news: HIV poll; Disney art project; Putin's claim 2014-12-09
AFC announces 18 grant recipients 2014-12-05
Vaccinate Illinois Week: CDPH offers flu vaccine clinics 2014-12-05
Vida/SIDA marks World AIDS Day with vigil, dinner 2014-12-04
Runway show marks World AIDS Day 2014-12-04
Illinois health dept. discusses plans for PrEP assistance 2014-12-04
News: India jails trans; Obama on AIDS; 2015 aging confab here 2014-12-03
Coming up: Homeless LGBT youth panel; World AIDS Day at Center 2014-12-03
On World AIDS Day, Lambda calls for end to HIV criminalization 2014-12-02
Providers ask for public's help in restoring HIV/AIDS funds 2014-12-01
Advocates plan for local PrEP push 2014-12-01
World AIDS Day proclamation by President Obama 2014-11-28
Having HIV/AIDS: Fighting stigma 2014-11-26
Chicagoans among POZ 100 youth 2014-11-26
New study suggests gay genetic link 2014-11-26
Report: ACA has led to fewer uninsured LGBTs 2014-11-26
AFC prepares for World of Chocolate 2014-11-26
Smithsonian Channel looks at origins of AIDS Dec. 1 2014-11-25
Chicago prepares for World AIDS Day 2014-11-24
GLMA adds LGBT nurses' section 2014-11-24
Congresswoman's trans son; HRC co-founder arrested 2014-11-24
Oldest, biggest HIV/AIDS coalition wants scale-up of PrEP; AFC leads locally 2014-11-24
AFC prepares for 30th anniversary 2014-11-20
VIEWS Stigma continues with new HIV-criminalization case 2014-11-19
Gay environmentalist wants to create a 'fabulous planet' 2014-11-18
Chicagoans among POZ 100 youth 2014-11-18
New study: HIV up among Black gay men, gaps in access 2014-11-17
Blood safety panel recommends change to gay donation ban 2014-11-14





Copyright © 2014 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor


 

No SCOTUS stay, same-sex marriages to begin in Florida Jan. 6
 
Myles Brady: Howard Brown's first transgender outreach coordinator
 
National: LGBT bill in Congress; trans soldiers; blood ban
 
March, vigil stress that sex workers' lives matter, too
 
TRAVEL Adults-only spots in Cancun
 
Windy City Times Current DownloadNightspots Current DownloadQueercast Current Download
Windy City Media Group BlogsJoin Our Email List!Donate Now
Sponsor


Sponsor

  News Index   About WCMG    Publications    Bars & Clubs     Calendar   Videos   Advertisers    OUT! Guide    Classifieds     AIDS @ 32       Marriage
 Local | National | World | Politics | Obits | Profiles | Views | Entertainment | Theater | Dance | Music | Film | Art | Books | TV/Gossip
 Travel | History | Marriage | Youth | Trans | Lesbian | Celebrations | Food | Nightlife | Sports | Health | Real Estate | Autos | Pets | Crime



About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video      News Videos      Nightspots Videos      Entertainment Videos      Queercast Videos      Comedy Videos     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group produces Windy City Queercast, & publishes Windy City Times,
The Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community,
Nightspots, Out! Resource Guide, and Identity.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.