Exploring Chaz Bono’s Journey: Cher Initially Struggled with His Coming Out.

Chaz Bono’s journey has been uniquely challenging, particularly as the child of the iconic singer and actress, Cher. Growing up in the relentless glare of the public eye is tough under any circumstances.

Chaz’s story stands out as remarkably inspiring. At the age of 39 in 2011, he began transitioning to male, a process during which Cher’s support was steadfast, despite initial difficulties.

Initially, Cher struggled to accept her son’s sexuality, reacting strongly when she first learned he was gay.

Cher herself is a household name, renowned for her impressive career which began alongside Sonny Bono. Their relationship was both magical and tumultuous.

They first met in Los Angeles, where Cher, having left high school at 16, moved to pursue her dreams. She took acting classes and worked various jobs, all the while nurturing her extraordinary talent as a singer.

Chaz Bono – the son of Cher

Sonny, eleven years Cher’s senior, was working as an assistant to the legendary record producer Phil Spector at the time they met. Their connection quickly blossomed.

Sonny secured a position for Cher as a backup session singer, and she sang on several of Spector’s hit recordings, including The Ronettes’ “Be My Baby” and The Righteous Brothers’ “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling.”

In 1964, Sonny and Cher began releasing their own records. Initially, their singles didn’t capture much audience interest. However, everything changed in September 1964 with the release of “Baby Don’t Go.”

Cher’s uncle, Mickey, arranged by her mother Georgia Holt, helped the duo secure an opportunity to open for the Righteous Brothers. This marked the beginning of a long and illustrious career for Cher, eventually earning her the title “The Goddess of Pop.”

Cher and her family

“Baby Don’t Go” marked the duo’s first hit, catalyzing a successful collaboration between Sonny and Cher that lasted until the mid-1970s. Alongside their professional success, their personal relationship deepened.

Initially, Cher was captivated by Sonny, though he initially showed more interest in one of her friends. Cher reminisced, “I was with my girlfriend, who was really beautiful. He liked her, so he didn’t pay much attention to me. He just called me ‘kid.'”

Cher also recalled that everyone else seemed to vanish the first time she saw him, describing him as “the most unusual person I’d ever seen.”

Despite a slow start romantically, with Sonny not initially attracted to Cher physically, they soon began living together and their relationship blossomed. By 1965, they were married and simultaneously advancing their music careers.

The couple’s relationship also brought them their child, Chaz Bono, born Chastity Bono on March 4, 1969. As the child of celebrities, Chaz gained immediate fame and quickly became familiar to television audiences.

Chaz Bono – early life

Chaz was named after the film “Chastity,” produced by Sonny, in which Cher played the lead role as a young, bisexual hippie runaway. It was during the making of this movie that Chaz was conceived.

As a child, Chaz frequently appeared on “The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour,” typically joining Sonny and Cher on stage for the closing number, “I Got You Babe.” Through these appearances, Chaz became a familiar face to the American public.

However, few were aware of the personal struggles Chaz faced at home and in school. From an early age, Chaz felt disconnected from the interests that typically engaged other girls.

In a 2011 interview with the Daily Mail, Chaz shared, “I’d look at other girls my age and feel perplexed by their interest in fashion or which boy was the cutest.”

Came out as a lesbian

At the age of 18, Chaz disclosed to his parents that he was a lesbian.

“As a child, I always sensed I was different,” Chaz recounted in his book Family Outing: A Guide to the Coming Out Process for Gays, Lesbians, and Their Families. “I was baffled by the other girls’ focus on the latest fashions, who the cutest boy in class was, or who resembled cover girl Christie Brinkley the most.”

He added, “At 13, I finally discovered the term that described how I felt: I realized I was gay.”

For Cher, who would later be celebrated as an icon in the LGBTQ community, accepting her child’s sexual orientation was initially challenging. “It wasn’t easy for me when I learned Chaz was gay,” Cher admitted in a PrideSource interview.

Chaz himself noted that Cher’s initial reaction was extreme: “She went ballistic when I first came out to her.”

Then, at the age of 39, Chaz began his transition to male, marking another significant chapter in his life.

Transition into a man

It wasn’t until 2010 that Chaz was legally recognized as male, following a California court’s approval of his request for a gender and name change.

The documentary Becoming Chaz, premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival and later broadcast on the Oprah Winfrey Network, provided an intimate look at Chaz’s transition.

Chaz described a challenging period with his mother during this time, noting in an interview with SBS Australia, “My mother went through a kind of mourning period. It was difficult for her, and we didn’t see each other for about the first year of my transition.”

Indeed, Cher initially struggled with Chaz’s transition. Despite her longstanding support for the LGBTQ community, adapting to this personal change was initially challenging for her.

Cher reflected on her initial difficulty in a 2020 CNN interview, “It was very unlike me to have a problem with Chaz being gay initially, and that issue disappeared quickly.”

She added, “Then we talked about whether Bono was transgender for many years. He would say, ‘No, I don’t want to [transition].’ And then, eventually, he decided, ‘OK, I want to do this.'”

Hard time listening to voice message

Cher shared a poignant memory of hearing Chaz’s old voicemail greeting, which was a difficult reminder of the change. Over time, however, she began to understand that Chaz’s core essence remained the same. “You don’t really lose them. They just are in a different shape,” she reflected.

Cher’s first interaction with the gay community happened when she was just nine years old. “One day I came home and there were these two men in my living room with my mom and my aunt. They were doing their hair and chatting, and I thought, ‘Why haven’t we ever had these kind of guys around? Because these guys are the coolest.” This experience marked her introduction to the gay world, and she added, “Gay people don’t feel like they fit in, and I never felt like I fit in.”

Since the release of the documentary Becoming Chaz in 2011, Chaz has continued to make public appearances. That same year, he broke new ground by becoming the first transgender man to compete on Dancing with the Stars.

Chaz Bono today

Chaz’s appearance on Dancing with the Stars marked a significant milestone, as he became the first transgender man to be featured on a major network television show for reasons unrelated to his transgender identity, as noted by Advocate.com.

Five years later, Chaz took on roles in American Horror Story: Roanoke and portrayed Reverend Rydale on The Bold and the Beautiful, further expanding his acting resume.

Alongside his growing acting career, Chaz has also faced significant personal challenges, including a long battle with obesity. He struggled significantly with his weight until he began his gender transition, which marked a turning point toward a healthier lifestyle.

Chaz shared with Oprah the profound impact of this transition, stating, “I would have never been able to do it before. I was too disconnected from my body, and the dysphoria I experienced was too intense to care enough to take action.”

Inspirational weight loss

When Chaz Bono first competed on “Dancing With The Stars,” he weighed 250 pounds. The intensive training and practice that came with the competition helped him to rapidly shed weight, which is hardly surprising given the physical demands of dancing.

Chaz has maintained this healthier lifestyle beyond his time on the show, continuing to lose weight. Recent photos indicate that he is significantly healthier compared to ten years ago.

However, Chaz’s weight loss journey has not been without challenges. Rapid weight loss can lead to physical issues, such as excessive sagging skin, which Chaz has experienced.

Despite these difficulties, he remains positive about his transformation. “It’s not fun, but it was worth it because I look better now,” he shared with Extra TV. “I’ve cut out, you know, 99 percent of grains from my diet. I pretty much eat vegetables, meat, fruit, nuts… and the one day of the year I allow myself cake is my birthday.”

“He did it all by himself”

Cher has often expressed admiration for her son’s determination and progress towards a healthier lifestyle.

“He did it all on his own. He decided to make the change and he followed through with it, losing about 85 to 90 pounds. Wow! I’m not sure I would have the courage to do that,” Cher remarked in 2013.

Chaz Bono partner

Chaz has been in the public eye from a young age, and his relationships have often drawn media interest.

Many years ago, Chaz was in a relationship with Jennifer Elia. They started dating in 1999, and Chaz proposed to Elia on top of Seattle’s Space Needle.

Their relationship experienced its fair share of ups and downs. Throughout Chaz’s gender reassignment process, Jennifer Elia was a supportive partner and later shared that she found him “more attractive” as a man.

However, the journey was not without its difficulties. Elia revealed that dealing with Chaz’s transition was sometimes hard for her, and she confessed to resorting to alcohol once Chaz made his final decision to undergo gender reassignment.

They couple separated in 2011.

“Chaz Bono and his fiancée, Jennifer Elia, have ended their engagement and are no longer together,” a representative announced at the time, adding, “They part with great love, respect, and affection for one another.”

Years later, Chaz found love again with Shara Mathes. They began their relationship in 2017.

 

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Публикация от Shara Blue Mathes (@sharablue)

Shara, a former child actress and social worker, is known for her roles in Hollywood, notably appearing alongside Jason Bateman in the 1984 comedy series, It’s Your Move. After the show concluded in 1985, Shara eventually left the entertainment industry. She now works for the homeless charity Housing Works in Los Angeles, as reported by the Daily Mail.

Chaz and Shara reportedly met through mutual friends and share many common interests, though they have kept details of their relationship largely private. However, some information has occasionally appeared in the media. A source close to the couple shared that “Shara was newly single when she first met Chaz, and she wasn’t looking for love.”

 

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Публикация от Shara Blue Mathes (@sharablue)

It seems Chaz’s family has fully embraced Shara; Georgia Holt, Cher’s mother, invited Shara to celebrate her 91st birthday with the family in June 2017.

Recently, on #transvisibilityday, Chaz was celebrated for his remarkable journey and bravery in his transition. A post from The Cher News Page on March 31, 2023, highlighted his contributions to increasing transgender visibility and acceptance.

In 2023, Chaz and Shara have kept a low profile online regarding their relationship. The last post from Chaz, dating back to January, celebrated their sixth anniversary. “Shara and I celebrated our 6-year anniversary today. I’m so grateful to share my life with this amazing woman,” he wrote.

 

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Публикация от Chaz Bono (@therealchazbono)

Chaz Bono continues to inspire many with his courage and dedication to living authentically. His story encourages others in similar situations to embrace their true selves, without concern for external judgment.

Please share this story to honor Chaz Bono, and to inspire and support others who may be facing similar challenges.

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