Chaz Bono – Actor and Trans Activist

Chaz Salvatore Bono was born in 1969 and is the son of Cher and the late Sonny Bono. Probably one of the most famous children in the world, growing up, many people will know that Chaz Bono was born Chastity Sun Bono.  Up until 2008 Bono was an outed lesbian with long blonde hair and a sunny smile. Now, that sunny smile carries is accompanied by a rather fetching beard, after Bono completed the female to male transition in 2010.

Bono went public with his transition, creating a documentary called ‘Becoming Chaz’, which screened in 2011 during the Sundance Festival. Oprah Winfrey later aired the documentary on OWN; the Oprah Winfrey Network.  As part of the transition process Chaz legally changed his name from Chastity Sun to Chaz Salvatore in 2010, along with his legal gender. (continued below)

An Advocate

Bono came out as a lesbian in 1987, telling only her parents, at that time. She was publicly outed in 1995 as a lesbian during an interview with The Advocate gay and lesbian magazine, claiming that she had always felt different but it wasn’t until the age of thirteen that she discovered a name for it; gay.  It took years after that interview before Cher was convinced to ‘come out’ as the mother—a proud mother—of a lesbian daughter. During this period Bono must have gone through much inner torment, knowing that not only was she a lesbian, but technically she was also a straight man in a woman’s body. The torment lasted until 2008 when she finally made that step to completing her transformation.

Now, Bono speaks and advocates for LGBT rights and is a proud and outspoken activist. His resume of activism is endless and includes social activism, campaigning for Bill Clinton’s reelection, campaigning against the DOMA—Defense of Marriage Act—serving as the Entertainment Media Director for GLAAD—the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation and captain of the Celebrity Fit Club 3 team in 2006. Chaz was supported by then girlfriend Jennifer Elia but they split after a two year engagement.

Dancing with the Stars

In 2011 Chaz became a contestant on Dancing with the Stars, which sparked a massive journey that included some serious weight loss. Prior to the start of the series Chaz had weighed in at around 250lbs, despite being only five feet five inches tall. However, at the end of his stint he had lost around a third of his body weight and looked strapping and fit.

Growing up Chastity

Chastity was always being photographed with her parents, Sonny and Cher because shew as born at the height of their popularity. She traveled with them and was seen regularly as she grew up.  Chastity was named after a movie that Cher starred in—her first solo part in a movie—called Chastity, where she played a bisexual woman. The movie was produced by Sonny Bono. Chastity followed partially in Cher’s footsteps with some acting and, joining a band called ‘Ceremony’ and releasing an album in 1995.  Despite their not receiving a credit on the album the backing vocals on the last track were actually done by Chaz’s parents, Sonny and Cher.

Current Projects

Bono has a movie in the pipeline, a suspense thriller due out in 2015 and he continues his writing career and advocacy work. Although Chaz’s story has faded somewhat and become part of the norm we should also remember that he was and remains a pioneer as one of the few women to transition into a man at a time when the subject was more taboo than it is now. So, kudos to Chaz and we wish him a long and happy career.

You can learn more about Chaz at the Chaz Bono Official Website.