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Chaz Bono

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Chaz Bono
Bono in 2017
Chastity Sun Bono

(1969-03-04) March 4, 1969 (age 55)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
  • Writer
  • musician
  • actor
Years active1972–present
Parent(s)Sonny Bono
RelativesElijah Blue Allman (half-brother)
Georgia Holt (grandmother)

Chaz Salvatore Bono[1] (born Chastity Sun Bono; March 4, 1969) is an American writer, musician and actor. His parents are entertainers Sonny Bono and Cher, and he became widely known in appearances as a child on their television show, The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour.[2][3]

Bono is out as a trans man. In 1995, while then presenting as a woman, and several years after being outed as lesbian by the tabloid press, Bono publicly self-identified as a lesbian in a cover story in a leading American gay monthly magazine, The Advocate. Bono eventually went on to discuss the process of coming out to oneself and 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.[4]

Between 2008 and 2010, Bono sought out gender-affirming care, commonly called gender transition. A two-part Entertainment Tonight feature in June 2009 explained that his medical transition had started a year before.[5] In May 2010, he legally changed his ID to match his gender and name.[6] A documentary on Bono's experience, Becoming Chaz, was screened at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival and later made its television debut on the Oprah Winfrey Network.[7][8]

Early life

Chaz Bono[a] with Sonny Bono in 1974

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 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.[9] Through his mother, Bono is of Armenian, Irish, English, and German ancestry. He is of Italian descent through his father.[10][11]

Bono was enrolled at the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts in New York City.[12] Bono came out to both parents as a 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."[13]


Bono began a short music career in 1988 with the band Ceremony,[4] 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."[14] 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".[15]

The songs "Could've Been Love" and "Ready for Love" were released as singles from the album. Sonny and Cher also recorded backing vocals for the track "Livin' It Up" on the album.

LGBT activism

Bono at the 2012 GLAAD Awards

In April 1995, Bono came out as a lesbian in an interview with The Advocate, a national gay and lesbian magazine.[16] 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."[17] 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"[18] 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."[17] Cher has since become an outspoken LGBT rights activist.

Bono's paternal relationship became strained after his father 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.[16]

Bono worked as a writer at large for The Advocate.[4] 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).[4] Bono was a team captain for Celebrity Fit Club 3 (2006) and was supported by girlfriend Jennifer Elia, who orchestrated exercise and training sessions.[5]

In June 2016, the Human Rights Campaign released a video in tribute to the victims of the Orlando nightclub shooting; in the video, Bono and others told the stories of the people killed there.[19][20]


In mid-2008, Bono began undergoing a physical and social transition from female to male. This was confirmed in June 2009 by his publicist,[5] who identified Bono's 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."[21] GLAAD and the Empowering Spirits Foundation were quick to offer praise and support for the announcement.[22] Bono's legal transition was completed on May 6, 2010, when a California court granted his request for a gender and name change.[6][23] Bono made Becoming Chaz, a documentary film about his transition that premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. The Oprah Winfrey Network acquired the rights to the documentary and debuted it on May 10, 2011.[24]

In September 2011, he became a competitor on the 13th season of the U.S. version of Dancing with the Stars, paired with professional ballroom dancer Lacey Schwimmer.[25] The duo was eliminated on October 25, 2011.[26] This was the first time an openly transgender man starred on a major network television show for something unrelated to being transgender.[27]

His book, Transition: Becoming Who I Was Always Meant to Be was published in 2012, making him the first person of Armenian descent to publish a memoir about being an openly transgender man.[28]



Year Title Role Notes
1994 Bar Girls[a] Scorp'
2004 Fronterz[a]
2016 Dirty Jerry the Hoarder
2019 3 from Hell Digby Neville
2020 Disclosure: Trans Lives on Screen Himself Documentary film
2020 Reboot Camp Herbert mockumentary
2023 The Bell Keeper Sheriff Carlson


Year Title Role Notes
1972–77 The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour[a] Himself 32 episodes
1975 Cher[a] Himself Episode 2.14
1997 Ellen[a] The Moderator Episode: "Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah"
2011 Becoming Chaz Himself Documentary film
Dancing with the Stars Himself 6 episodes
2012 Degrassi: The Next Generation Himself Episode: "Tonight, Tonight: Part 2"
2013 The Secret Life of the American Teenager Himself Episode: "To Each Her Own"
2014 RuPaul's Drag Race Himself/Guest Judge "Queens of Talk"[29]


2016 The Bold and the Beautiful Reverend Rydale 5 episodes
American Horror Story: Roanoke Lot Polk 2 episodes
Brian Wells 2 episodes
Where the Bears Are Gavin Kelly 3 episodes
2017 American Horror Story: Cult Gary K. Longstreet 8 episodes
2018 Adi Shankar's Gods and Secrets Upcoming series
2020 Curb Your Enthusiasm Joey Funkhouser Episode: "The Spite Store"


  • Family Outing[a] (with Billie Fitzpatrick) (1998). Little, Brown and Company. pp. 272. ISBN 978-0316102339
  • The End of Innocence: A Memoir[a] (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


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h as Chastity Bono


  1. ^ "Cher's son now officially a man". BBC News. May 7, 2010. Archived from the original on August 31, 2017. Retrieved November 14, 2011.
  2. ^ "Chastity Bono Undergoing Gender Change". TV Guide. June 11, 2009. Archived from the original on October 29, 2011. Retrieved June 11, 2009.
  3. ^ "Chastity Bono is Chaz Bono". Right Celebrity. June 11, 2009. Archived from the original on June 15, 2009. Retrieved June 11, 2009.
  4. ^ a b c d Marcus, Lydia (March 21, 2006). "Interview with Chastity Bono". AfterEllen. Archived from the original on December 21, 2007. Retrieved February 19, 2007.
  5. ^ a b c "Chaz Bono", June 15–16, 2009, Entertainment Tonight.
  6. ^ a b "Chaz Bono granted gender and name change". Fox News Channel. May 6, 2010. Archived from the original on January 6, 2015.
  7. ^ "Chaz Bono Documentary To Debut on OWN | Access Hollywood – Celebrity News, Photos & Videos". Access Hollywood. Archived from the original on November 14, 2011. Retrieved November 14, 2011.
  8. ^ "Chaz Bono Documentary, Becoming Chaz, to Have World Television Premiere on OWN". Oprah.com. Archived from the original on July 27, 2020. Retrieved April 30, 2020.
  9. ^ Bryant, Wayne, M. (1996). Bisexual Characters in Film, from Anaïs to Zee. Haworth Press. p. 117. ISBN 978-0-7890-0142-9
  10. ^ Bego 2001, p. 11: Sarkisian's profession; Berman 2001, p. 17: Sarkisian's nationality and personal problems, Crouch's profession; Cheever 1993: Crouch's ancestry.
  11. ^ "Sonny Bono Biography". Yahoo! Movies. Archived from the original on February 17, 2010. Retrieved January 1, 2024.
  12. ^ "Jennifer Aniston & Chaz Bono in High School Together (PHOTO)". September 15, 2011. Archived from the original on April 2, 2021. Retrieved October 10, 2020.
  13. ^ Bono, Chaz (as Chastity); Fitzpatrick, Billy (1998). Family Outing. New York: Little, Brown. p. vii. ISBN 0-316-10233-4.
  14. ^ Krbechek, Randy (December 22, 1993). "Reviews of Ceremony | Hang Out Your Poetry, The Dead Milkmen | Not Richard, But Dick, and Al Stewart concert". PSNW. Archived from the original on June 16, 2009. Retrieved March 12, 2018.
  15. ^ Roch Parisien. "Hang Out Your Poetry". AllMusic. Archived from the original on October 16, 2015. Retrieved April 27, 2015.
  16. ^ a b Freydkin, Donna (October 14, 1998). "Chastity Bono opens up about coming out". CNN. Archived from the original on March 20, 2007. Retrieved February 20, 2007.
  17. ^ a b Bono, Chaz (as Chastity); Fitzpatrick, Billy (1998). Family Outing. New York: Little, Brown. p. viii. ISBN 0-316-10233-4.
  18. ^ Bono, Chaz (as Chastity); Fitzpatrick, Billy (1998). Family Outing. New York: Little, Brown. p. 207. ISBN 0-316-10233-4.
  19. ^ "49 Celebrities Honor 49 Victims of Orlando Tragedy | Human Rights Campaign". Hrc.org. Archived from the original on August 23, 2016. Retrieved June 30, 2016.
  20. ^ Rothaus, Steve (June 12, 2016). "Pulse Orlando shooting scene a popular LGBT club where employees, patrons 'like family'". The Miami Herald. Archived from the original on June 15, 2016. Retrieved June 15, 2016.
  21. ^ "Chastity Bono Undergoing Gender Change". TV Guide. June 11, 2009. Archived from the original on March 21, 2017. Retrieved January 8, 2017.
  22. ^ "ESF Applauds Chastity Bono's Gender Transition Announcement" (PDF). Empowering Spirits Foundation Press Release. June 11, 2009. Archived from the original (PDF) on June 16, 2009. Retrieved June 11, 2009.
  23. ^ "Chaz Bono, Cher's child, becomes a man after Southern Californian judges grants gender change". Herald Sun. May 7, 2010. Archived from the original on June 14, 2011. Retrieved May 7, 2010.
  24. ^ Byrge, Duane (January 24, 2011). "SUNDANCE REVIEW: 'Becoming Chaz' Is a Powerful Study in Personal Courage". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on October 1, 2019. Retrieved May 20, 2019.
  25. ^ "BBC News – Cher berates 'bigots' attack on son's role in TV show". BBC. September 2, 2011. Archived from the original on November 24, 2011. Retrieved November 14, 2011.
  26. ^ Corneau, Allison (October 26, 2011). "Dancing With the Stars: Chaz Bono Sent Home". Us. Archived from the original on October 28, 2011. Retrieved November 27, 2011.
  27. ^ "14 Reasons That Made 2011 Great for Trans People". Advocate.com. December 28, 2011. Archived from the original on October 7, 2013. Retrieved October 5, 2013.
  28. ^ "Transition by Chaz Bono". The Queer Armenian Library. September 28, 2020. Retrieved January 1, 2024.
  29. ^ Rezsnyak, Eric. ""RuPaul's Drag Race" Season 6, Episode 9: Talk Show, Balk Show". CITY News. Archived from the original on February 5, 2021. Retrieved January 27, 2021.
  30. ^ "Chaz Bono and Damiana on the RuPaul's Drag Race Season 6 Finale Red Carpet". The WOW Report. May 23, 2014. Archived from the original on February 1, 2021. Retrieved January 27, 2021.

Works cited

External links