The Real World’s third season, San Francisco, was a game changer for the HIV/AIDS community in 1994. By sharing his life in front of MTV’s cameras, Pedro’s personality and charm forced viewers to look at HIV a little bit differently. For me, as a teenager living in secrecy with HIV, it was revolutionary.
The entire season is available to watch on Hulu, which surprised Pedro’s friend and Real World roommate, Judd Winick. When brought to his attention on Twitter, Judd tweeted that he had no idea that was happening, but also said that’s part of the deal when you sign up for a reality TV gig: "Corporate TV is confusing. But we are grateful that people have another way to watch Pedro’s story.“ He added, ”And that’s OK. That’s the deal. That’s the gig. And we are the least ungrateful people from reality TV. Besides the winners of Survivor."
When asked about royalties he used that gif of the young lady spitting her coffee out in laughter.
Classic Judd Winick, who has carved out an incredible career as a cartoonist (get your kids his HILO graphic novel series, they’ll love it!) He has “Reality TV Has Been” on his Twitter bio, too. Pedro won me over for obvious reasons, but Judd won me over on The Real World, too, hilariously it was the moment when he defended the honor of the Three Stooges while on a date.
You may have recently heard about the documentary, Keep The Cameras Rolling, which took a look at Pedro’s impact, both then and now. Or the Pedro Zamora Scholarships, which are awarded to young leaders in the field of HIV/AIDS education and awareness.
Whether you are familiar with Pedro’s work or not, I think it’s always important to honor those we’ve lost to HIV/AIDS. Pedro was a voice for the voiceless, which includes those that never got a chance to speak out, those whose life circumstances prevent them from ever going public with HIV (stigma is real, folks) or those whose own voice was awakened by Pedro’s bravery. In my case, it was Judd Winick yelling “Do something... anything!” at the Real World Reunion that was filmed shortly after Pedro passed in 1994, something that deeply affected me.
So, you don’t have Hulu? You can sign up for a free trial. It’s a perfect time to get reaquianted with someone who was gone far too soon, but whose light still shines on us today.