Chaz Salvatore Bono (born Chastity Sun Bono on March 4, 1969) is the only child of singer/congressman Sonny Bono and singer/actress Cher.

Chaz Bono Biography

Like many children of famous personalities, Bono grew up in the limelight, often appearing on TV alongside his parents on their variety shows. This led to a certain amount of public awareness but was not as visible as his parents or some of his siblings even after being outed by the tabloids in 1990.

Chaz Bono Coming Out

Privately, Bono dealt with his sexual identity early on, often finding himself as a bit of an outsider. “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,” then-Chastity Bono wrote in Family Outing, the first of four books he would go on to write.

Bono realized he was gay at the age of thirteen, but did not come out to his parents for five more years. Sonny and Cher both had difficulties with this announcement, and while Cher eventually came around, Sonny and Chaz became estranged and were not on speaking terms for over a year in 1998 when Sonny was killed in a skiing accident.

Chaz Bono Sex Change

In 2000, Bono began to consider himself transgendered and began educating himself on the process of having a sex change. Bono said he had always been tomboyish as a child and has said to multiple sources: “To me, gender is between your ears, not between your legs. I’ve felt male as far back as I can remember.”

Chaz Bono Interview

Bono spoke exclusively with UInterview for an in-depth and emotional interview while promoting his latest book Transition. Bono covered several topics, including several frank comments on the fear that comes from going through like this, as well as having to go through this change as a notable public figure. (One of the few in Hollywood with similar experiences is Kathlyn Elizabeth Beatty—eldest child of Warren Beatty and Annette Bening—who became Stephen Ira Beatty in 2012 at age 20.)

“I just had a tremendous amount of fear of what other people would think of me if I transitioned,” Chaz told uInterview, “and knowing that I would have to do it in the public eye was something that really scared me and I thought that I would get a lot of criticism from people. Though self-identifying as trans in 2000, it would be eight years until he made his intentions public and another year before the transition began.

Chaz Bono Music, Writing, and Media Appearances

Unsurprisingly, Bono had a talent for music, and formed a band called Ceremony and had a sound reminiscent of 1960s folk. Celebration released a single album in 1993 Hang Out Your Poetry. However, due to increased media fixation based on tabloid leaks about Bono’s sexuality, the band never made a second, and receded from the public for a time.

Over the years, Bono has also established himself as an author of memoirs that are also meant to act as a guide for transgendered youths and their parents.

Family Outing (1998)

The End of the Innocence: A Memoir (2003)

Transition: the story of how I became a man (2011)

Transition: Becoming Who I Was Always Meant to Be (2012)

2011 proved to be a busy year for Bono. He was the subject of a documentary called Becoming Chaz which aired on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) and detailed the challenges of gender reassignment, identity, the physical toll of the surgeries he’s endured, as well as personality changes that occurred as he began taking testosterone.

Also that year he had appearances on Celebrity Fit Club 3 and Dancing With the Stars where he was paired with professional ballroom dancer Lacey Schwimmer.

Chaz Bono Activism

Bono became an activist for the LGBT community following his public coming out in a 1995 interview with gay and lesbian magazine The Advocate, where he also later worked as a writer at large. Since then he had also served as Entertainment Media Director for GLAAD. He has become a spokesperson for several equal rights and human rights groups including the Human Right Campaign, and is a staunch opponent of the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act.

Chaz Bono Girlfriends and Relationships

Despite being a public figure, Bono has managed to keep much of his private life quiet, and little of his dating history is known.

From 1992-1994 Bono was in a serious relationship with a woman identified in The End of the Innocence as “Joan,” who was twenty years Bono’s senior and tragically passed away after from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Bono also had a twelve year long relationship with Jennifer Elia and were previously engaged to be married before their relationship ended in 2011.

Chaz Bono Family and Personal Life

Chaz Bono is the only child of singer/congressman Sonny bono and singer/actress Cher. He is also the half-brother to Elijah Blue Allman, Chianna Maria Bono, Christine Bono, Chesare Elan Bono and Sean Bono.

Bono has had a difficult relationship with his parents since his initial revelation at eighteen. While mother Cher came around to his sexuality, she had a harder time coming around to the change to Chaz. They are said to be on good terms now but also “taking a break” from one another.

Due to Sonny Bono’s untimely death in 1998, however, there are things that will remain unresolved. “If I have one regret, it’s that I didn’t speak to my father before he died,” Bono told People in 1998. “It took his death to make me realize how much he meant to me.” He tries to be philosophical but can’t hide his grief: “I have yet to find a ‘blessing in disguise’ about his death. I just wish this incredible love we had for each other was the taste left in my mouth, instead of the distance.”

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