Being Chaz: A New Documentary About Chaz Bono and his Fiancée Debuts on OWN

Chaz Bono presents Jennifer Elia with an engagement ring in a trip to Seattle on “Being Chaz.”
The activist officially proposed to Elias a couple of years ago.

Chaz Bono has lived most of his life in the spotlight thanks to his famous parents Sonny Bono and Cher, but his time to truly shine began this year as he welcomed the public into his very private decision to transition his body and legal existence to the male he always knew he was inside. In May, “Becoming Chaz,” the F2M celeb’s publicly documented transition aired on OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network. The documentary was well-received (it was nominated for three Emmys), but then Bono decided to take his new persona to ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars.” His presence as a cast-member on the primarily heterosexual-based dance competition stirred up a variety of emotions across the country. Bono received multiple threats on his life, as well as being torn apart in the blogs. But he rose above it, dancing his way into the hearts of millions and opening minds of hopefully quite a few.

“Dancing With The Stars” dance pro Lacey Schwimmer and celebrity contestant Chaz Bono

Bono opens up his life to the cameras again with another documentary for OWN called “Being Chaz,” which follows Chaz as he embraces his new life while his fiancée Jen Elias begins to deal with living with a man. Viewers will also see the trials and tribulations of the couple’s relationship as Chaz prepares for his debut on “Dancing with the Stars” and this controversy and threats to his life over his decision to participate in the show. “Being Chaz” airs on Sunday, Nov. 27, on OWN at 8 p.m. Eastern/Pacific. OWN re-airs “Becoming Chaz” at 6 p.m.

I joined a roundtable interview with Bono, where he answered questions about his life—from his engagement to his wedding plans to his new life as a man to his experience on DWTS. If Bono’s wedding is filmed, we think he ought to call the special ,”Marrying Chaz.”

Chaz Bono on how he proposed to Jennifer Elia:

You know, to be honest we have not made any plans yet. We’ve been pretty happily just in engaged all this time. And I got engaged. I cooked her a special dinner. I wanted to do it at home because we’re both kind of–I think that’s where we both feel the most comfortable. We’ve got a lot of animals that are like our kids and it just didn’t feel right to go to a restaurant. So I cooked up a really nice dinner. I kind of decorated the house, got flowers and candles and all the kinds of stuff that she likes and proposed to her after dinner.

On the details of his wedding:

I don’t know if that stuff is terribly important. I think, to me, as long as you have, you know, the people that you love there, everything else, I think, kind of comes second.

On using his newfound dancing skills at his wedding:

You know, I think what [“Dancing With The Stars”] taught me, I know, I can partner dance much better but, you know, that it’s also [better] with a pro dancer. Nancy Grace and I got out and moved a little on the dance floor and it was fairly disastrous, actually, without one of the pros.

So, yes, I probably will have to take some additional lessons with Jen. Jen is truly not a good dancer. She doesn’t have a good sense of rhythm. I tried to teach her some stuff when I first started–just like some basic stuff–and it was hopeless.

On being on “Dancing With The Stars”:

It’s mentally and physically the toughest job I’ve ever done. You really can’t understand it until you do it. And I think one of the nice things about doing a documentary on OWN is that you do get a nice behind-the-scenes look at what it’s really like.

But, yes, physically I was really somewhat prepared and was able to have some time to do some stuff to physically get prepared a little bit and I knew it was going to be incredibly physically challenging but nothing can prepare you for the sheer terror of dancing live on television in front of 20 million viewers.

On his relationship with the lesbian community now that he’s no longer a lesbian:

I think that probably there’s just still not a full understanding that sexual orientation and gender identity are two different things. And I kind of mistakenly thought, you know, when I was younger in coming out that I was a lesbian because I knew about gay and lesbian people. I grew up around gay and lesbian people. You know, that was very comfortable and something I understood.

And later in life I realized that wasn’t what the issue was but it was an issue of my gender identity. So my transition was, you know, in no way a slap in the face to the lesbian community or anything. I just realized that wasn’t what the issue was until I didn’t get the comfort that somebody who is a lesbian would get by coming out.

On deciding to transition publicly:

I think that for years and years I, was terrified to transition because I knew that I wouldn’t be able to do it privately and didn’t. That just scared me at having to transition, you know, in front of the public and really delayed me doing this. And if I could have done it privately, I would have and probably would have done it a long time ago. But when I finally did get comfortable, you know, I wanted to tell my story my way and I didn’t want other people to tell it for me. I wanted to try and help people in the process.

Photos: Engagement: Photo/Elise Duran, courtesy of OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network; Dancing With The Stars courtesy of ABC