As the daughter of '70s pop duo Sonny and Cher, Chastity Bono led a privileged life in many ways. But when a tabloid magazine revealed her homosexuality -- something she was unprepared to have nationally exposed -- Bono found that her parents' fame would not protect her from prejudice. Bono shared her story last night at the Annenberg School as part of national Coming Out Day. The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Alliance sponsored the event, which drew an audience of about 30. Though she recognized her homosexuality at age 13, Bono only felt comfortable telling her parents five years after her discovery. "Before I told my dad, I asked him questions like, 'Is there anything I could tell you that would make you not love me anymore?' " Bono said. "Then I left a lesbian fiction novel in my room which he found. I guess that was my scared way of telling him." Developing her identity as a lesbian, Bono started going to gay bars and events. She even bought her mom a T-shirt that says 'I love my lesbian daughter' -- which Bono joked, Cher does not wear. But Bono soon found her homosexual lifestyle and musical aspirations irreconcilable. Pursuing a music career, Bono had joined a band and in 1990 released an album. Just before the album came out, The Star exposed her homosexuality. Warning Bono that being a lesbian would destroy her career, several friends urged her to refute the stories any way she could. Bono granted The National Enquirer an interview, assured that it would deny The Star's allegations. "I got rid of any incriminating photos of my lover and I, we left the apartment at different times," Bono said. "Even when we went out to dinner, we always made sure we were with a man." Bono's record sold poorly -- something she now considers lucky. In that same year, her lover developed cancer, which progressed rapidly. The lover died four years later. Devastated by the loss, Bono said she reevaluated the choices she had made. Now a reporter for the gay magazine The Advocate, Bono said her life has "fallen into place." Using her experience as an example, Bono urged audience members to "come out" for their personal benefit and that of the gay community. "You need to say to people, 'There's nothing wrong with me -- I'm your neighbor, I'm your friend. I'm not some molester who's trying to destroy family values,' " she said. While many audience members agreed that more gays and lesbians need to "come out," some voiced frustration that Bono concentrated on her experience rather than exploring issues that other gay people, such as racial minorities, face. Others were very pleased with Bono's presentation. "I was happy with the discourse," said LGBA President and College senior Anthony Putz. "I like it when people talk intellectually across lines and address complicated issues." The LGBA kicked off Coming Out Day yesterday with a rally on College Green. Members encouraged others to "come out" by symbolically jumping out of The Button sculpture. And several people read poems and discussed their experiences as part of the gay community.Comments powered by Disqus
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