Spokesman For My Generation This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   Pedro Zamora was, and still is, the greatest role model possible for all young Americans today. Pedro set his goals and limits high, and reached them with a dedication and unselfishness we should all strive for. Pedro's qualities for leadership, speaking his mind, and most of all, passing his message on, shone through to millions of Americans over the past six months. These millions were all affected greatly with his sudden death one month ago.

This is a man who immigrated to this country from Cuba at age eight, found out that he was infected with the HIV virus at 17, and spent the last five years of his life passing on the anti-AIDS message to the world. While this speaking out was meant for everyone, he placed a large emphasis on his own generation - the teens and twenty-somethings. Some call us Generation X, but with Pedro as a spokesman, and the fact that youth are the future, we're a progressive group, filled with the skills we will need in years to come. Not only are we the future, but it is a very promising and bright future we will bring.

Pedro is not only a symbol of this generation, but a human being and a member of this generation. He shouldn't be regarded as a mere symbol (as the press sometimes portrays him), he was a man - managing a horrible disease and doing his best to keep others from having to do the same. He admitted that this was a disease he brought on himself through unprotected sex, and he asked for no pity. What Pedro did ask was an end to the ignorance, and the beginning of the downfall of the AIDS epidemic. Every time one person learned how to avoid the disease, Pedro helped that person, and met his goal.

During these five years, Pedro could have wallowed in self-pity: a shut-in in his own home, but what he did was exactly the opposite. He began by speaking out to everyone, breaking down stereotypes and prejudices against homosexuals (which he was) and HIV-AIDS victims. He pushed the envelope on AIDS research, he reached as many people as he could - both in his native Cuba, and here. His final publicity was a major step in his life, and this proved to be one of the last steps of his life.

Another name we have been called is the MTV Generation, that Pedro thought we were the most important to reach. He volunteered four months of what he knew was waning time to appear on an MTV show called The Real World. The Real World is the documentary joining six strangers in a strange city and showing their lives for this four-month period. The novelty of this show is its down-to-earth nature, and the fact that everything is true.

Pedro was chosen for The Real World III and moved to San Francisco. He lived with a motley crew, and this group of 18- to 23-year-olds soon became the hottest show to watch for high school and college students. Pedro was the favorite in the public's eye, because we could see the way he overcame this disease, spoke his mind and spread the word. His AIDS activity didn't stop when he arrived in San Francisco - on the contrary - Pedro's appearance on The Real World was all a part of his plan to inform more people, and this act should be considered one of the noblest things he could have done in his final months.

Pedro Zamora died on November 11, just hours after the final installment of The Real World aired. He was 22. This leader was an icon of the greatness of America's youth, as well as the most positive publicity that the AIDS epidemic has ever seen. Pedro was a dedicated leader, and the world mourned his departure. c


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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