The last image you might have of me is from about 10 plus years ago when I was working as a gay and lesbian activist. At that time, I was also writing books (first Family Outing and next End of Innocence). Then I more or less disappeared.

In my first book, Family Outing, I described the events that led to a life-changing moment when I discovered that I was attracted to girls instead of boys, and drew the logical conclusion that I was a lesbian. Family Outing also included my mom's side of the story, how she'd had intuitive hunches since I was very young that I might not grow up to be just like her and that I might, indeed, be gay. In that way, Family Outing was also a coming out guide; I felt compelled to share my story—not to shock people with a tell-all memoir but rather to reach out to other gay people and their families who were trying to overcome the many challenges of coming out, hoping that they might benefit from my struggle and experience.

Just as I was finishing Family Outing, my dad died in a freak skiing accident. I pulled myself together for a couple of years, began writing End of Innocence, which was my attempt to make sense of my early music career, its precipitous demise and my passionate relationship with an older woman. Tragically, Joan died of cancer, after less than two years of powerful love and intense involvement.

These personal losses triggered a gradual but extreme downward spiral in my life that ultimately led me to develop an addiction to prescription painkillers—the only way I found at the time to take the edge o??? the searing pain inside of me. Though it was a slow progression over many years, my addiction to prescription opiates made it impossible to continue working, and, in fact, I barely made it through writing End of Innocence.
©Chaz Bono 2011, reprinted with permission of Dutton, a member of Penguin Group U.S.A.


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