Chaz Bono, 2010
|Born||Chastity Sun Bono
March 4, 1969
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Other names||Chaz Salvatore Bono|
|Occupation||Writer, musician, advocate|
|Relatives||Elijah Blue Allman (half-brother)
Georgia Holt (grandmother)
Bono is a transgender man. In 1995, several years after being outed as lesbian by the tabloid press, he publicly self-identified as such in a cover story in a leading American gay monthly magazine, The Advocate, eventually going on to discuss the process of coming out to oneself and to others in two books. Family Outing: A Guide to the Coming Out Process for Gays, Lesbians, and Their Families (1998) includes his coming out account. The memoir The End of Innocence (2003) discusses his outing, music career, and partner Joan's death from non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
Between 2008 and 2010, Bono underwent female-to-male gender transition. A two-part Entertainment Tonight feature in June 2009 explained that his transition had started a year before. In May 2010, he legally changed his gender and name. A documentary on Bono's experience, Becoming Chaz, was screened at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival and later made its television debut on OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network.
Bono was born in Los Angeles, California, the only child of Cher and Sonny Bono of the pop duo Sonny & Cher, stars of a TV variety show on which the young child often appeared. Bono was named Chastity Sun Bono after the film Chastity, which was produced by Sonny and in which Cher (in her first solo role in a feature film) played a bisexual woman.
Bono came out to both parents as lesbian at age 18. In Family Outing, Bono wrote that, "as a child, I always felt there was something different about me. I'd look at other girls my age and feel perplexed by their obvious interest in the latest fashion, which boy in class was the cutest, and who looked the most like cover girl Christie Brinkley. When I was 13, I finally found a name for exactly how I was different. I realized I was gay."
Bono began a short music career with the band Ceremony, which released one album, Hang Out Your Poetry, in 1993. The band featured Bono on vocals, acoustic guitar, and percussion. Other members were Steve March Tormé (backup vocals), Heidi Shink a.k.a. Chance, Pete McRae, Steve Bauman, Louis Ruiz, and Bryn Mathieu. All but one of the band's songs were written or co-written by Bono, Shink, and Mark Hudson. They used no synthesizers or digital effects on the album; Shink noted, "We turned our back on technology. [ ... ] It's reminiscent of the 60s, but more a tip of the hat than emulating it. We took the music we love and rejuvenated it, made it 90s." Critical reception of the album was lukewarm, with Roch Parisien of Allmusic describing Hang Out Your Poetry as a mildly psychedelic take on early 1990s pop, "pleasant, accessible, well-produced ear-candy that's ultimately toothless".
The songs "Could've Been Love" and "Ready for Love" were released as singles from the album.
- "Goodbye Sunshine"
- "Steal Your Heart"
- "Day by Day"
- "Ready for Love"
- "Ready for Love (Refrain)"
- "Hang Out Your Poetry"
- "Could've Been Love"
- "Turn It Over"
- "2 of 1"
- "First Day of My Life"
- "Living in a Paradise"
- "Livin' It Up"
Sonny and Cher recorded backing vocals (uncredited) for the last song. As well as the 14 songs listed here, a 15th track, "One World", was released as a B-side to the "Could've Been Love" single.
In April 1995, Bono came out as a lesbian in an interview with The Advocate, a national gay and lesbian magazine. The 1998 book Family Outing detailed how Bono's coming out "catapulted me into a political role that has transformed my life, providing me with affirmation as a lesbian, as a woman, and as an individual." In the same book, Bono reported that Cher, who was both a gay icon and an ally of LGBT communities, was quite uncomfortable with the news at first and "went ballistic" before coming to terms with it: "By August 1996, one year after I came out publicly, my mother had progressed so far that she agreed to 'come out' herself on the cover of The Advocate as the proud mother of a lesbian daughter." Cher has since become an outspoken LGBT rights activist.
Bono's paternal relationship became strained after Sonny became a Republican Congressman from California. The differences in their political views separated them, and the two had not spoken for more than a year at the time of Sonny's fatal skiing accident in January 1998.
Bono worked as a writer at large for The Advocate. As a social activist, Bono became a spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign, promoted National Coming Out Day, campaigned for the reelection of Bill Clinton for US President, campaigned against the Defense of Marriage Act, and served as Entertainment Media Director for the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD). Bono was a team captain for Celebrity Fit Club 3 (2006) and was supported by girlfriend Jennifer Elia, who orchestrated exercise and training sessions.
In mid-2008, Bono began undergoing a physical and social transition from female to male. This was confirmed in June 2009 by his publicist, who identified Bono's preferred name as Chaz Bono and said, "It is Chaz's hope that his choice to transition will open the hearts and minds of the public regarding this issue, just as his coming out did." GLAAD and the Empowering Spirits Foundation were quick to offer praise and support for the announcement. Bono's legal transition was completed on May 8, 2010, when a California court granted his request for a gender and name change. He chose the name "Chaz Salvatore Bono" in honor of his parents. Bono made Becoming Chaz, a documentary film about his transition that premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network acquired the rights to the documentary and debuted it on May 10, 2011.
In September 2011, he became a competitor on the 13th season of the US version of Dancing with the Stars, paired with professional ballroom dancer Lacey Schwimmer. The duo was eliminated October 25, 2011. This was the first time an openly transgender man starred on a major network television show for something unrelated to being transgender.
- Family Outing (with Billie Fitzpatrick) (1998). Little, Brown and Company. pp. 272. ISBN 978-0316102339
- The End of Innocence: A Memoir (with Michele Kort) (2003). pp. 232. ISBN 978-1555837952
- Transition: the story of how I became a man (with Billie Fitzpatrick) (2011). New York: Dutton. ISBN 978-0525952145
- Transition: Becoming Who I Was Always Meant to Be (with Billie Fitzpatrick) (2012 paperback). Plume. pp. 272. ISBN 978-0452298002
- "Cher's son now officially a man". BBC News. May 7, 2010. Retrieved November 14, 2011.
- "Chastity Bono Undergoing Gender Change". TV Guide. June 11, 2009. Retrieved June 11, 2009.
- "Chastity Bono is Chaz Bono". Right Celebrity. June 11, 2009. Retrieved June 11, 2009.
- Marcus, Lydia (March 21, 2006). "Interview with Chastity Bono". AfterEllen. Retrieved February 19, 2007.
- "Chaz Bono", June 15–16, 2009, Entertainment Tonight.
- "Chaz Bono granted gender and name change". Fox News Channel. May 6, 2010.
- "Chaz Bono Documentary To Debut on OWN | Access Hollywood – Celebrity News, Photos & Videos". Access Hollywood. Retrieved November 14, 2011.
- Bryant, Wayne, M. (1996). Bisexual Characters in Film, from Anaïs to Zee. Haworth Press. p. 117. ISBN 978-0-7890-0142-9
- Bono, Chaz (as Chastity); Fitzpatrick, Billy (1998). Family Outing. New York: Little, Brown. p. vii. ISBN 0-316-10233-4.
- "Internet Archive Wayback Machine". Web.archive.org. April 12, 2001. Retrieved November 14, 2011.
- Freydkin, Donna (October 14, 1998). "Chastity Bono opens up about coming out". CNN. Retrieved February 20, 2007.
- Bono, Chaz (as Chastity); Fitzpatrick, Billy (1998). Family Outing. New York: Little, Brown. p. viii. ISBN 0-316-10233-4.
- Bono, Chaz (as Chastity); Fitzpatrick, Billy (1998). Family Outing. New York: Little, Brown. p. 207. ISBN 0-316-10233-4.
- "I prefer him as a man: Chaz Bono's girlfriend Jennifer Elia speaks out about his sex change as the pair discuss wedding plans | Mail Online". London: Dailymail.co.uk. May 13, 2011. Retrieved November 14, 2011.
- "Chastity Bono Undergoing Gender Change". seattlepi.com. June 11, 2009.[dead link]
- "ESF Applauds Chastity Bono's Gender Transition Announcement" (PDF). Empowering Spirits Foundation Press Release. June 11, 2009. Retrieved June 11, 2009.
- "Chaz Bono, Cher's child, becomes a man after Southern Californian judges grants gender change". Herald Sun. May 7, 2010. Retrieved May 7, 2010.
- "BBC News – Cher berates 'bigots' attack on son's role in TV show". BBC. September 2, 2011. Retrieved November 14, 2011.
- Corneau, Allison (October 26, 2011). "Dancing With the Stars: Chaz Bono Sent Home".
- "14 Reasons That Made 2011 Great for Trans People". Advocate.com. 2011-12-28. Retrieved 2013-10-05.
- The Official Chaz Bono Website
- Chaz Bono at the Internet Movie Database
- Allmusic.com entry on Bono's band Ceremony