Human Rights Campaign Invests $25K in Sean Sasser Endowment Fund at AIDS United

Endowment Fund to Support Programs Improving Health Outcomes for Gay Men of Color

WASHINGTON, D.C. – September 19, 2013 – AIDS United’s newly-established Sean Sasser Endowment has received a $25,000 founding contribution from the Human Rights Campaign (HRC).  The fund honors the memory of AIDS educator and activist Sean Sasser, who worked with HRC closely on prominent advocacy campaigns, and will be used to mobilize philanthropic and community support for programs improving health outcomes among gay men of color.

Sean Sasser, who was the spouse of AIDS United President & CEO Michael Kaplan, 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 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 to educate others about HIV.  Sasser served as a spokesperson and educator for HRC’s “You’ve Got the Power: Vote” campaign and as a member of President Clinton’s Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS.

“HIV changed Sean’s life plan, and with that change, Sean made the lives of countless others, particularly gay men of color living with HIV/AIDS, better,” said HRC Vice President and Chief Foundation Officer Jeff Krehely.  “The work that will be made possible by the Sean Sasser Endowment Fund will carry on Sean’s incredible legacy – and we’re proud to be supporting these efforts.”

“Sean made a difference by living his life openly as an out, gay, HIV-positive black man,” said Kaplan.  “To see HRC be the first major donor to step up on this fund means a lot – both in honoring his history with them and the importance of the work going forward.”


A Public Memorial to honor Sean Sasser will take place Saturday, September 21, 2013 at
National City Christian Church, 5 Thomas Circle,Washington, DC, 20005.
Doors open at 10:30 a.m., Service at 11 a.m.

To make a donation to the Sean Sasser Endowment Fund, visit