His turn on Dancing with the Stars was only the beginning. Since making headlines for being the first transgender contestant on the reality show, Chaz Bono is once again making a first. He’s the recipient of GLAAD‘s Stephen F. Kolzak Award, which honors an openly LGBT person who has made a significant difference in promoting equality in the media. Bono is the first transgender person to ever receive the award.
“Chaz has opened the door for countless others, reshaping the way Americans think about transgender people today,” says Mike Thompson, acting president of GLAAD. “His bold leadership in sharing his story as a transgender man, as well as his tireless work to secure equality for every American, embodies the values of GLAAD’s Stephen F. Kolzak Award.”
It was just three years ago that Bono first revealed he is transgender and later shared his life and transition process in the documentary Becoming Chaz, which was nominated for a GLAAD Media Award as well as three Emmy Awards. Bono has written a trio of books, including Transition, a groundbreaking account of his transition from female to male.
But even before his transition, Bono has long been an advocate for LGBT rights.
In 1996, Bono became the Human Rights Campaign’s National Coming Out Day spokesperson. He later served as GLAAD’s Entertainment Media Director where he tackled several high-profile campaigns around LGBT issues in Hollywood. He has contributed as a writer-at-large to The Advocate and has spoken at dozens of universities and LGBT events around the country. He continues to promote change by creating awareness and discussions about fairness and equality for the LGBT community, says GLAAD, using his celebrity to bring attention to issues that most impact the community.
Bono and others will be honored at the GLAAD Media Awards in Los Angeles on April 21. Ellen DeGeneres will open the show with guests including singer Jason Mraz, as well as Betty White, Wendie Malick, Valerie Bertinelli, Jane Leeves (Hot in Cleveland); Josh Hutcherson (The Hunger Games); Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Modern Family); Joshua Jackson (Fringe); Kate Beckinsale (Underworld: Awakening); Kim Wayans (Pariah); Molly Shannon (Casa de mi Padre); Trevor Donovan (90210); Fran Drescher (Happily Divorced); Brooke Elliott, Josh Berman (Drop Dead Diva); Gilles Marini (Switched at Birth); Ali Larter (The Asset); Fenton Bailey, Randy Barbato (Becoming Chaz); Mike Mills (Beginners); and decorated Air Force veteran Lt. Col. Victor Fehrenbach.