This is so sad. ‘Real World’ star and AIDS activist Sean, who is best known for his bright personality and big heart, has died from a rare cancer at only 44-years-old.
Sean Sasser, an AIDS activist and The Real World recurring star, died on August 6, his friend and cast member Judd Winick announced. Sean, who was HIV positive, was suffering from mesothelioma, a rare cancer of the lungs, and his partner Michael Kaplan confirmed that this is what caused his death.
Sean Sasser Dies At 44 Years Old
Sean, 44, lost his battle with the disease, after spending years suffering from AIDS.
“Our friend Sean Sasser has died. Our love goes out to his family & husband Michael. We will miss u so much,” Judd tweeted on August 6.
Wilson Cruz, another cast member, said “My hearts. Another beacon of light in our community is darkened tonight with the passing of AIDS activist Sean Sasser. In your name we fight.”
Sean was living in Washington D.C. at the time of his death with his partner Michael. He was working as a pastry chef, and running AIDS United, a nonprofit group aimed at “end[ing] the AIDS epidemic within the United States.”
Sean Sasser Leaves Behind A Legacy
Sean became famous in the early 1990s for his relationship with Pedro Zamora, whom he starred with on The Real World: San Francisco. They are credited with bringing international attention to HIV/AIDS and LGBT issues and prejudices through their appearance on the show, and they were championed by U.S. President Bill Clinton.
Pedro and Sean had one of the first ever televised relationship between two men, and their commitment ceremony was aired shortly before Pedro’s death from AIDS. He died in 1994 shortly after the show aired, at only 22 years old.
Sean was truly a hero and an inspiration. Not only was he an activist, he was a black, gay man whose face and spirit became a part of the MTV generation’s gay and AIDS awareness.
Dan Renzi, a cast member on this year’s The Real World: Miami — wrote of Sean’s death at Queerty:
Long before Ellen or Will & Grace showcased gay people on TV living mainstream lives, and before the magic of protease inhibitor “cocktails” turned HIV into a manageable disease, Sasser gave a brave face to both issues and brought those taboo topics to educate millions of young Americans.
And perhaps his early death is a stark reminder that for many, HIV is still a disease, a lesson he undoubtedly would not want anyone to forget and be proud survives him.
Sadly, Sean is not the first star from the MTV show to die too young. Joey Kovar, from Real World: Hollywood and Celebrity Rehab was found dead on August 17 2012 from a drug overdose.
Our thoughts go out to Sean’s family and friends. Hopefully he and Pedro are together again.
WATCH: Sean & Pedro Go On A Date On ‘The Real World’
— Eleanore Hutch