San Francisco-based comicbook artist Judd Winick, Zamora's friend and fellow housemate, announced Sasser's death on Tuesday night via Twitter.
Our friend Sean Sasser has died. Our love goes out to his family & husband Michael. We will miss u so much. pic.twitter.com/2WsaChdcAQ— Judd Winick. (@JuddWinick) August 8, 2013
Though best remembered for his visibility and on-air marriage to Zamora, which remains revolutionary to this day, Sasser worked tirelessly as an AIDS activist. Dan Rezni, Real World Miami cast member/Queerty scribe, noted Sasser's off-screen accomplishments:
Sasser may not be familiar to people who did not see his episodes of The Real World, and he did not live his life in the limelight after the show. But his one brief turn in front of the cameras was enough to make a major impact. 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.
Sasser succumebd to complications of mesothelioma, a cancer of the lungs. Rezni goes on to point out, "No other information was released immediately about his medical condition, but mesothelioma has been linked to a weakened immune system in some people with AIDS."
Below, the episode featuring Sasser and Zamora's wedding. The two exchanged vows in a commitment ceremony that came a decade before gay marriage was legal in California. Zamora died in November 1994, a few hours after the show's season finale.