The Sean Sasser Endowment Fund
No other population in the United States has been as hard hit by HIV as black gay men. In fact, some estimate in major U.S. urban areas, that by the age of 25, a black gay man has a one in four chance of becoming infected with HIV.
We can turn the tide of this epidemic, but doing so means not just broad approaches for general population, but also a true focus of resources where disparities are greatest. The Sean Sasser Memorial Endowment Fund was established in September 2013 to mobilize philanthropic and community support for programs that improve the health outcomes for gay men of color.
Sean Sasser - The Endowment Fund honors the memory of Sean Sasser, spouse of AID United President & CEO Michael Kaplan. Sean passed away on August 7, 2013 at the age of 44, having lived with HIV for 25 years. Sean discovered he was HIV-positive when, at age 19, he sought to enlist in the Navy. When the Navy didn’t accept him, Sean went on to create a life as an AIDS educator and activist.
In 1993 Sean’s life was thrust into the spotlight when his boyfriend Pedro Zamora starred in the groundbreaking season of MTV’s The Real World San Francisco. Their relationship, their commitment ceremony, and Pedro’s tireless AIDS education and activism – were all documented within mainstream media. After the very public loss of Pedro to AIDS, Sean continued to speak out, travelling to colleges and universities across the country to educate others about HIV.
While Sean eventually stepped out of the public eye, becoming the successful and celebrated pastry chef he had dreamed of being, his legacy of being one of the first public faces of young gay black men living with HIV will live on forever.