|Born||Chastity Sun Bono
March 4, 1969
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Occupation||Actor, writer, musician, activist|
|Known for||Sonny & Cher's only child, LGBT activism, writing, acting|
|Parents||Sonny Bono, Cher|
Chaz Bono (born Chastity Sun Bono; March 4, 1969) is an American LGBT rights advocate, writer, actor, and musician. Bono is the only child of American entertainers Sonny and Cher, though both parents have children from other marriages.
In the early 1990s Bono was outed by tabloid press then publicly self-identified as lesbian in a 1995 cover interview in The Advocate. The process of coming out to oneself and others was a central topic in Bono's two books: Family Outing: A Guide to the Coming Out Process for Gays, Lesbians, and Their Families (1998) tells the story of his own coming out as well as stories of other gay and lesbian people; the memoir The End of Innocence (2003) discusses his outing, music career, and partner Joan’s death from non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
As of 2009, Bono is undergoing female-to-male gender transition, as confirmed by his publicist. A two-part Entertainment Tonight feature explained that Bono's transition had started in June 2008 and would likely be complete in 2010.
Bono is the only child of Cher and Sonny Bono, well-known as the pop duo Sonny & Cher who had a top-rated television variety show on which the young child often appeared. He was originally named Chastity Sun Bono after the title of Cher's first feature film, produced by Sonny, in which Cher plays a bisexual woman. The film had its première shortly before Bono's birth in 1969.
Bono came out to both parents as lesbian at age eighteen. 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-lived music career with the band Ceremony. They released one album, Hang Out Your Poetry, in 1993. The band featured Bono on vocals, acoustic guitar, and percussion. Other members were Heidi Shink a.k.a. Chance, Pete McRae, Steve Bauman, Louis Ruiz, and Bryn Mathieu. All the songs except one were written or co-written by Bono, Shink, and Mark Hudson. They did not use 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 90's."
The song "Could've Been Love" was released as a single from the album. The album's other tracks are "Goodbye Sunshine", "Steal Your Heart", "Day by Day", "Ready for Love", "Ready for Love (Refrain)", "Hang Out Your Poetry", "Turn It Over", "Trust", "2 of 1", "First Day of My Life", "Breathless", "Living in a Paradise", and "Livin' It Up". Sonny and Cher also took a small uncredited role of backing vocals on the last song.
In April 1995, Bono voluntarily came out in an interview with The Advocate. 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 ally to 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, a national gay and lesbian magazine. Bono became a spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign, promoting National Coming Out Day, campaigning for the reelection of Bill Clinton for US President, and campaigning against the Defense of Marriage Act. Bono served as Entertainment Media Director for the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD). He was one of the team captains for Celebrity Fit Club 3 (2006) and was supported by his girlfriend Jennifer, who orchestrated exercise and training sessions.
Bono is in the process of undergoing a gender transition which began mid-2008, as confirmed in June 2009 by his publicist, who 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 his announcement.