In celebration of worldwide LGBT (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender) Pride month, I am recognizing a prominent celebrity who also is a fiercely devoted pet parent.
This person has recently been prominently featured in the news (see Time, Advocate, etc) for sharing his remarkable journey through a life changing transition. Chaz Bono, the son of Sonny Bono and Cher, was born as a biological female and is undergoing gender reassignment to become a male.
Although I am fascinated by the medical aspects of Chaz’s transformation (bilateral mastectomy, hormone therapy, oh my!), such won’t be the focus of this article. Instead, I want to emphasize the relationship he shares with his companion animals and his influence in helping me achieve a sense of acceptance with my family.
I have spent time with Chaz as a veterinary client and his pets as my patients. He and his companion, Jennifer Elia, always exhibited heartfelt parental concern for their pets. Chaz and Jennifer treat their dogs and cats as they would human children and receive uncompromising love in return.
As I needed to stay in doctor mode to provide emergency veterinary services to his pets, I was forced to contain my enthusiasm to meet him. You see, Chaz Bono played an integral role in my coming out process. As an spokesperson for the LGBT community, Chaz wrote the inspiring book Family Outing. After coming out to my parents, they sought guidance from the Catholic church (their choice, as I’m agnostic) and Chaz’ book to better understand the sexual orientation issues I have faced since childhood.
This is the first time I have publicly verbalized my personal admiration of Chaz as a role model for the LGBT community and pet owners from all backgrounds. Although I have had more than one opportunity to do so in person, I didn’t want to take the focus off his pet’s medical concerns during our previous interactions.
I hope Chaz reads this and realizes the positive “OutImpact” he had on my family and me. Additionally, I’m sure Chaz and Jennifer will keep taking such good care of their companion animals.
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Copyright of this article (2011) is owned by Dr. Patrick Mahaney, Veterinarian and Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist. Republishing any portion of this article must first be authorized by Dr. Patrick Mahaney. Requests for republishing must be approved by Dr. Patrick Mahaney and received in written format.