In 1995, after several years of being outed as lesbian by the tabloid press, Bono publicly declared herself 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. Family Outing: A Guide to the Coming Out Process for Gays, Lesbians, and Their Families (1998) includes the author's coming out account. The memoir, The End of Innocence (2003) discusses the author's outing, music career, and partner Joan's death from non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
Around age 39, Bono underwent female-to-male gender transition. A two-part Entertainment Tonight feature in June 2009 explained that Bono's transition had started a year before. In May 2010, Bono legally changed gender and name. Bono has made a documentary about his life, which OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network will debut.
Early life and educationBono was born March 4, 1969, he is the only child together of Cher and Sonny Bono of the well-known pop duo Sonny & Cher, who had a top-rated television variety show on which the young child often appeared. Bono was named Chastity Sun Bono after the film Chastity, which was produced by Sonny, and in which Cher – in her first feature film – plays a bisexual woman. The film had its première shortly before Bono's birth in 1969.
Bono came out to both parents as 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."
CeremonyBono 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. 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 90's."
The song "Could've Been Love" was released as a single from the album. The album's other tracks are "Goodbye Sunshine", "Steal Your Heart", "Day by Day", "Ready for Love", "Ready for Love (Refrain)", "Hang Out Your Poetry", "Turn It Over", "Trust", "2 of 1", "First Day of My Life", "Breathless", "Living in a Paradise", and "Livin' It Up". Sonny and Cher recorded backing vocals (uncredited) for the last song.
LGBT activism and spokespersonIn April 1995, Bono came out as lesbian in an interview with The Advocate, a national gay and lesbian magazine. 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." In the same book, Bono reported that Cher, who was both a gay icon and ally to LGBT communities, was quite uncomfortable with the news at first, and "went ballistic" 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." Cher has since become an outspoken LGBT rights activist.
Bono's 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.
Bono worked as a writer at large for The Advocate. As a social activist, Bono became a spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign, promoting National Coming Out Day, campaigning for the reelection of Bill Clinton for U.S. President, campaigning against the Defense of Marriage Act, and serving as Entertainment Media Director for the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD). Bono was one of the team captains for Celebrity Fit Club 3 (2006) and was supported by girlfriend Jennifer, who orchestrated exercise and training sessions.