BY STEVE ROTHAUS, srothaus@MiamiHerald.com
Six months before his transition, Chaz Bono broke the news to Cher.
"I was astonished how cool she was," Bono said Monday to a few hundred students and others at Florida International University. "But when the changes started to happen, it became emotional for her."
Cher -- herself an icon in the LGBT community -- had to deal with the loss of daughter Chastity before getting to the point that she could publicly support a new son, Chaz.
A day after appearing as grand marshal at Miami Beach Gay Pride, Bono visited FIU's Biscayne Bay Campus for An Evening With Chaz Bono, presented by the campus' Office of Campus Life.
Bono, whose father was Sonny Bono, participated in discussion with South Florida LGBT activist Elise Withers, a political science major at FIU. Afterward, Bono answered questions from the audience.
"From as far back as 5 or 6 I felt like a boy," Bono told Withers, adding that most family members accepted his early sense of gender dysphoria.
"The only one I had difficulties in adolescence with was my mom," said Bono, now 43. "Everything seemed like a negotiation."
Bono said that as a child, he knew little about gender identity issues. Young Chastity assumed she was gay because she dated women.
"I joke about this," Bono said, "but I felt like a really bad lesbian. I was doing it all wrong."
But about 10 years ago, Bono began to explore his true gender identity. "It took eight years from realizing I was transgender till I had the courage to do something about it."
Click the photos to view a gallery from the evening. Photos by STEVE ROTHAUS / Miami Herald Staff.