Far from the ordinary reality television star with 15 minutes of fame, HIV/AIDS activist and educator Pedro Zamora was a inspiration and role model to the GBLT community and the rest of the world. Born February 29th, 1972, to Cuban parents, Hector and Zoraida, he was raised in a small town near Havana, Cuba. After previously having seven children, Pedro's mother was told prior to his birth that she would not be able to have any more children, so when she did give birth to him he was seen almost as a miracle. Born feet first on leap day in a leap year added to the idea that he was a very special child. A priestess of Santeria even blessed him as an infant and called him a "wise one", a soul who was born to save lives. He grew up in a very small house with a dirt floor, and food was scarce with his mother trading things on the black market in exchange for food to support their large family. Growing up in these grim conditions made his childhood tough, but things changed for the better when Zamora's family moved to Hialeah, a suburb of Miami, Florida (Mills).
When Zamora was 8 years old, his family, a whopping ten people, attempted to leave Cuba together for the United States. They left Cuba during the Mariel Boat Lift, which was a mass movement of Cubans who departed from Mariel Harbor trying to get to the United States in 1980. Although his family tried to stay together, government officials informed them that the four older siblings were too close to the draft age and were not going to be allowed to the United States with the rest of their family. Even though the family wanted to go together, the older siblings were adamant about the rest of their family getting an opportunity for a better life in America. Thus, the rest of the family continued with their trip to the U.S. After sailing on a boat with 250 people with a boat half the capacity for 13 hours Pedro and his family arrived and started a new life (Vaillancourt). When Zamora was 13, his mother passed away from skin cancer. During his time in the United States prior to her death, they had developed a very close relationship and her death was devastating to him. In his high school years Pedro become an honors student, Cross-Country Team Captain, and President of the Science Club. While in denial of his mother's death and needing a way to cope, however he became sexually promiscuous. Zamora did not receive adequate sex education. Unaware of the possible serious consequences of loose sexual relations with many partners, he was naïve about safe sex and HIV transmission. After only receiving information from someone who made the disease seem like a distant problem that only affects drug addicts and prostitutes, Zamora was unaware and uneducated and did not know he was at risk too. During his early high school years when Zamora was 14, his father suspected that his son was a homosexual and discovered that his suspicions about his son's sexuality were correct. After having his older brother follow Pedro on a day that he told his father he was going to hang out with a group of friends, he caught him with his boyfriend at the time. Subsequently, Pedro confessed to his father about his sexuality after he was confronted. His father, an understanding man who was close to his son, did not disown him, but supported him. His concern was more for the homophobia that Zamora would be subjected to from anyone who even suspected he was gay (Johnson). During his junior year at Hialeah High School, Zamora participated in a blood drive in which, to his surprise, his blood was rejected. He received a letter following his blood donation stating that his blood tested "reactive", although the letter did not specify reactive for what. In denial, Zamora ignored it and the many other letters he received requesting he have more tests. Unable to ignore the inevitable any longer, six months later Zamora tested HIV positive on November 9th, 1989, at the young age of 17.
In denial about his...
Cited: July 1994. 2 Feb. 2007 .
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