This week, the LGBTA Student Resource Center announced that Chaz Bono, son of musical personalities Sonny and Cher, will be the keynote speaker for National Coming Out Week.
Bono is scheduled to speak at 7 p.m. on Oct. 10 in the HUB Auditorium.
Author, advocate and former “Dancing with the Stars” contestant, Bono is expected to discuss topics covered in his book “Transition: The Story of How I Became a Man,” Craig Leets, assistant director of the LGBTA Student Resource Center, said.
Bono’s appearance is co-sponsored by the LGBTA Student Resource Center and University Park Allocation Committee.
Following his appearance on campus, Bono — who identifies as a transgender — is scheduled to speak at the Penn State Abington campus on Oct. 11, National Coming Out Day.
Bono was chosen over the summer to come as a speaker for his knowledge on the misunderstood topic and notoriety within the general population, Subasic said.
“I’m really hoping Chaz is going to empower people [who are] coming to see him,” Leets said.
Through empowerment, Leets said he hopes people will be inspired by this keynote to be who they are and not let others stop them from achieving this feat.
Outside of those sitting in the audience, Bono’s speech will be showed to others across the Penn State community.
“We are also going to have this on C-NET so people at other campuses will be able to se the talk,” Allison Subasic, director of the LGBTA Student Resource Center, said.
She also said this is the first time the Center has broadcasted a talk in this way and will provide the opportunity to gain more information about transitioning to people who may be too uncomfortable to see Bono in person.
Whether seeing him in the HUB Auditorium or on the screen, Subasic said “[Students will] hopefully [take away] a better understanding of what it means to be differently gendered.”
For some students, Bono’s presence on campus and his notoriety will bring cause for a more diverse crowd than usual to learn about transitioning.
Jenny Shipley, Penn State's Rainbow Roundtable president, wrote in an email, “Compared to other speakers, he may attract a little more attention from outside the LGBTA community than normal due to his notoriety. That being said, his event may be better attended. Whatever the case, I am sure he will be excellent.”
Shipley (senior-mechanical engineering) added to this sentiment when she wrote, “I think students will react positively to his presence on campus. Even if they do not know him as a well-known LGBT activist, they might know him as Cher's son or due to his time on television shows.”
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