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The Los Angeles GLAAD Media Awards paid tribute to Chaz Bono with two awards on Saturday, as well as a surprise appearance from his mom Cher. But before the music icon hit the stage, Bono and his stepmother Rep. Mary Bono Mack hit the red carpet.
“I’m so honored that GLAAD asked me to present the award,” Mack told The Hollywood Reporter. “I think if anyone exemplifies courage and bravery right now, it’s Chaz. He’s had an extraordinary year — two years, actually — put himself out there for the public to see and I think America has fallen in love with him.”
Bono was awarded with GLAAD’s Stephen F. Kolzak Award, which is presented annually to an openly lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender media professional who has made a significant difference in promoting equality. Plans changed at the last minute when Cher — and her huge hairdo — took the stage at the Westin Bonaventure with Mack to present the statue.
“I’m here because Chaz has the most courage of almost anyone I know,” Cher said from the stage. “The other day I was having a big meltdown (like you do) and Chaz said, ‘Are you going to come to the [GLAAD event],’ and I went ‘Chaz, you know, I’m not doing well right now’ and…he texted me and said ‘I turned into a very understanding, smart man and you can call on me.’ And it made me feel so good, like I could lean on someone. It touched my heart.”
Bono was also honored for his revealing documentary Becoming Chaz, which chronicles his transition from female to male, joining directors Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato on stage to pick up the prize.
Asked what the accolades mean for the transgender community, Bono told THR: “I don’t know what accolades do, but I think visibility does a lot, and I think being able to get out there and tell our stories really creates social change.”
“That’s one of the things that motivates me to do what I do,” he added.
“Hopefully it’s making a difference,” said Mack. “That people are understanding and tolerating and respecting everybody. Chaz is very brave to lead the way. I think it’s one thing to do it for people to transgender, but it’s another thing to do it and to do it in the public eye.”
While Bono is currently being celebrated for his extraordinary bravery, he has also faced extreme hardships and the most outspoken of critics. With his turn on Dancing With the Stars, Bono was often targeted by online message boards and Twitter users who opposed his casting on the family friendly series.
“We all watched on Dancing With the Stars, that a lot of people were rooting for Chaz,” recalled Mack. “But we also saw the darker side right now of humanity. Especially on Twitter and on the Internet, it’s so easy for people to throw out anonymous hatred. Chaz was the target of a lot of that hatred, yet he held his head up high, he danced his rear off and did a great job.”
Bono went on to finish in fifth place on the show’s 13th season. This year, Bono says he’s pulling for Extra host Maria Menounos to bring home the mirror ball trophy.
“My top three right now are: Maria Menounos, Katherine [Jenkins] and Donald Driver,” Bono said.
For more from the GLAAD Media Awards, click here.
E-mail: Sophie.Schillaci@thr.com; Twitter: @SophieSchillaci
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