Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A few words on meeting Chaz Bono

[Editor’s note] I met Cher’s son last night and I’m alive to tell the tale.

The sheer impossibility of everything in that sentence is baffling but true. Anyone who’s ever met me knows of my love for Cher. It’s a love that runs deep and has been well-documented throughout the years. In recent years, that love and admiration has extended to her son Chaz Bono.

Few people can imagine my utter shock and awe when told that he was coming to my university for a speaking engagement. To say that I was floored is to put it mildly.

As part of its Gay Pride Week, FIU invited Chaz to its Biscayne Bay campus to speak about his transition. Superbly moderated by Elise Withers, a political science major at FIU, Chaz opened up about his childhood, his parents, his struggles with drugs and sexuality, and his new role as a Trans advocate. It was a candid and thought-provoking conversation with a man who has been through more than most.

Perhaps the best and most revealing part of the evening was the audience question and answer segment. Chaz did not shy away from answering every one's questions-- including mine! Having read his book, Transition: The Story of How I Became a Man, from cover to cover, I was struck by how little was written about his friendships. So I put on my big girl pants and stepped up to the mic. After gushing about how my mom and I love him and his mom, I asked what his friend's reactions were to his transition. I'm happy to report that his friends have remained very supportive and that he hasn't lost anyone important in his life. For this I was especially glad because friends are often the only family we have when some in our own families aren't supportive.

After that, Chaz was gracious enough to sign every one's books and take pictures.

I walked away with a new found respect for him. Despite the impressive pedigree of being the son of the greatest entertainer in the world (...dial it back Jerry), he doesn't walk around with a chip on his shoulder. He's intelligent, and brave, and honest. And in a world where most people hate what they don't understand, I'm glad that Chaz is shedding light and love on something so misunderstood.

You can check out pictures of the event here. See if you can spot me.

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