Former MTV reality star Sean Sasser has died at age 44, his friend and fellow Real World: San Francisco costar Judd Winick announced via Twitter on Tuesday, Aug. 6. The AIDS activist is survived by his spouse, Michael Kaplan. "Our love goes out to his family and husband Michael," Winick wrote. "We will miss you so much."
Queerty reports that Sasser, who was HIV positive, died of mesothelioma, a rare cancer of the lungs. In addition to his awareness efforts, he had been working as a pastry chef at RIS restaurant in Washington, D.C.
Sasser found fame in the early '90s for his relationship with Pedro Zamora, who starred on The Real World: San Francisco. Their commitment ceremony was one of the first ever shown on national television -- and it was done a decade before any same-sex couples could legally marry in the United States. (Zamora died of AIDS at age 22 on Nov. 11, 1994.)
News of Sasser's passing quickly spread online. "My heart breaks. Another beacon of light in our community is darkened tonight with the passing of AIDS activist Sean Sasser," GLAAD activist Wilson Cruz, who played a bisexual teen on the '90s MTV series My So-Called Life, wrote on Facebook. "I'll never forget your kindness, your smile, the joy you brought into every room you stepped into. In your name we fight on. Rest now, my friend."