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Sean Sasser, 'Real World' Star and AIDS Activist, Dead at 44

Reality star died from mesothelioma

Sean Sasser, left, during the first White House conference on AIDS.
AP Photo/Joe Marquette
August 9, 2013 9:15 AM ET

Sean Sasser, whose relationship with Real World: San Francisco cast member Pedro Zamora made television history by breaking cultural barriers, died on Wednesday. According to MTV, Sasser died from mesothelioma, a rare lung cancer. He was 44. 

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Sasser was not an original Real World cast member, but he became known to viewers as his relationship with Zamora blossomed in the series' third season. The couple exchanged vows on camera, making history as the first television broadcast of its kind, predating legal gay marriage in California.

Sasser had been HIV postitive for 25 years, was an HIV/AIDS activist and educator and revealed his diagnosis on the show in 1994. Zamora had been diagnosed with AIDS at the age of 17, and his health took a turn for the worse during the show's taping. Zamora died on November 11th, 1994 a few hours after the final episode of his Real World  season. Sasser was by his side.

At the time of his death, Sasser was living in Washington, D.C. and working as a pastry chef with his partner, Michael Kaplan.

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