Chaz Salvatore Bono is an American transgender advocate, writer, and musician. He is the only child of American entertainers Sonny and Cher, though each had children from other relationships. Bono began a short music career with the band Ceremony, which released one album, Hang Out Your Poetry, in 1993. The band featured Bono on vocals, acoustic guitar, and percussion. All but one of the band’s songs were written or co-written by Chaz. In 1995, after several years of being outed as lesbian by the tabloid press, he publicly self-identified as such in a cover story in a leading American gay monthly magazine, The Advocate.
Bono went on to discuss the process of coming out to oneself and to others in two books he wrote. His 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. Chaz worked as a writer at large for The Advocate. As a social activist, he 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). Bono was a team captain for Celebrity Fit Club 3 (2006).
In mid-2008, Bono began undergoing a physical and social gender transition from female to male. This was confirmed in June 2009 by his publicist, who identified Bono’s preferred name as Chaz 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.” A two-part Entertainment Tonight feature in June 2009 explained that Bono’s transition had started a year before. GLAAD and the Empowering Spirits Foundation were quick to offer praise and support for the announcement. Bono’s legal transition was completed on May 7, 2010, when a California court granted his request for a gender and name change.
He chose the name “Chaz Salvatore Bono” in honor of his parents. A documentary on his experience, Becoming Chaz, was screened at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival and later made its television debut on OWN. In September that year, he became a competitor on the 13th season of the US version of Dancing with the Stars, paired with professional ballroom dancer Lacey Schwimmer.