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Bono, Chaz (b. 1969)  
page: 1  2  

In The End of Innocence, Bono discusses the experience of being outed by the tabloids, his stint with Ceremony, and the death of his partner Joan from non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

Though he has frequently found his celebrity roots troublesome, Bono has used the public's fascination with him to advance his work as an activist. He has also exploited his celebrity in other ways, as for example when he appeared on VH1's weight-loss reality show, Celebrity Fit Club,in 2006.


In his Advocate coming-out interview Bono remarked, "As a kid I thought I was a little boy." Six years later he began to consider the possibility that he was transgender.

He delayed acting on that possibility for several years, fearful that sexual reassignment might prove an embarrassment to his mother.

When he finally decided to make his transition, he determined to use the media spotlight that had always illuminated his life to educate the public about trans issues, though he followed his mother's advice not to do a reality television show about the experience.

In mid-2008, at age 39, Bono began the process of transition. Soon after turning 40, he underwent gender-reassignment surgery.

On May 7, 2010, Bono officially became a man, when a California court granted his petition for a change in gender and name. He changed his first name to Chaz and adopted his father's name Salvatore as his middle name.

In transitioning, he had the support of his partner of four years Jennifer Elia, his stepmother Representative Mary Bono (R-CA), and his famously glamorous mother Cher.

There is some irony in the juxtaposition of Chaz, who has undergone both surgery and hormone treatment in order to approximate society's idea of a "real man" with his mother Cher, who has undergone her own numerous surgeries and medical treatments in order to approach a societal ideal of a "real woman."


Bono continues to work as a glbtq activist, and enjoys his new identity. As he told Entertainment Tonight, "I feel like I'm living in my body for the first time, and it feels really good."

Radical queers may be less pleased with his characterization of his transition's effect on his relationship with Elia, "Our relationship always modeled a heterosexual relationship, emotionally and intellectually. So now it does physically as well."

He recently contributed a video to Dan Savage's "It Gets Better" campaign targeting glbtq youth. In the video, he speaks of the value of coming out, of honesty, and of embracing difference.

Bono produced a documentary about his gender transition, Becoming Chaz, directed by Randy Barbato. The film, which premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, was also presented on television on the Oprah Winfrey Network.

Bono's book Transition: How I Became a Man was published in 2011.

In 2011, Bono competeted in the 13th season of the U.S. version of the television program Dancing with the Stars, paired with professional ballroom dancer Lacey Schwimmer. Although the selection of Bono as one of the contestants was derided by some conservative commentatators, who warned that he would somehow confuse children, he acquitted himself well. He and Schwimmer were eliminated well into the season.

Tina Gianoulis

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arts >> Overview:  American Television, Reality Shows

Reality television viewers have come increasingly to expect the appearance of gay men and lesbians on these shows because their presence helps further underscore the "reality" in Reality TV.

social sciences >> Overview:  Coming Out

"Coming out" is the revelation or acknowledgment that one is a member of a sexual minority, a process that is at once personal and social and often political.

arts >> Overview:  Documentary Film

The queer community has used documentary film to resurrect historical memory and to permit the marginalized to bear witness, as well as to build an image base that reflects our diversity and counters distorted representations.

social sciences >> Overview:  Outing

First used by homophobes and then by glbtq activists, outing is the public revelation of a person's sexuality without the consent of that person.

arts >> Overview:  Rock Music

Although rock music has been closely associated with freedom of expression and rebelliousness, it has not been particularly welcoming to gay and lesbian performers.

social sciences >> Overview:  Tomboys

Although tomboys must contend with the often false assumptions that they are lesbian or want to be male, for many the tomboy stage is the first manifestation of a gender-fluid life journey.

social sciences >> Overview:  Transgender

"Transgender" has become an umbrella term representing a political alliance between all gender variant people who do not conform to social norms for typical men and women and who suffer political oppression as a result.

social sciences >> Overview:  Transgender Activism

Since the late nineteenth century, transgendered people have advocated legal and social reforms that would ameliorate the kinds of oppression and discrimination they suffer.

social sciences >> Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD)

The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) is a watchdog group dedicated to promoting accurate representations of the glbtq community in the media.

social sciences >> Human Rights Campaign (HRC)

The largest glbtq political organization in the United States, the Human Rights Campaign has emerged as the leading national organization representing glbtq concerns.

literature >> Savage, Dan

Best known for his syndicated sex-advice column, Dan Savage is also the author of books chronicling his and his partner's experiences in adopting a child and dealing with the issue of same-sex marriage


Bartolomeo, Joey. "Chastity Bono's Sex Change: Becoming Chaz." People Weekly (June 29, 2009): 54.

Bono, Chastity. Chaz Bono website (2011):

_____. Family Outing: A Guide to the Coming Out Process for Gays, Lesbians, and Their Families. New York: Little Brown, 1998.

_____. The End of Innocence: A Memoir. Los Angeles: Advocate Books, 2003.

Marikar, Sheila. "Chaz Bono Opens Up About Becoming a Man, Taking Hormones." ABC News / Entertainment (October 29, 2009):

Voo, Jocelyn. "Harmony And Heartache: Wedded Bliss, A Public Spat and One Woman Peeks a Toe out of the Closet." Curve (May 2010): 25.

Wieder, Judy. "Virtuous Reality." The Advocate (April 18, 1995): 42-5.

Zuckerman, Blaine. "Chaz Bono: 'I'm A Happy Guy.'" People Weekly (December 21, 2009): 107.


    Citation Information
    Author: Gianoulis, Tina  
    Entry Title: Bono, Chaz  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2011  
    Date Last Updated May 28, 2012  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2011 glbtq, Inc.  


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