SONNY & CHER spawn CHAZ BONO haunted by heartbreaking cancer secret that changed his life forever!
Cher’s 42-year-old transgendered son – who triggered a torrent of hate mail and ugly taunts by signing up for the show – has never gotten over losing the love of his life, Joan Stephens, to cancer.
“All the pain and grief of losing Joan came spilling out again after the ‘Dancing With The Stars’ bombshell exploded,” a close friend told The ENQUIRER.
“Chaz wanted to dedicate his performance to Joan, who was his lover and adviser. That’s why the ‘DWTS’ casting filled his heart with joy.
“He intended his appearance to be a glowing tribute to her and everything she stood for – being yourself and embracing your own sexuality. But now it’s been gutted by hate and prejudice, and Chaz is shattered.”
On the new season of “DWTS,” Chaz – who underwent female-to-male gender reassignment surgery in 2009 – has been partnered with bouncy blonde Lacey Schwimmer.
“At first Chaz was thrilled to be se­lected,” the friend confided. “He had resolved to use his appearance as a proud spokesperson for the gay and transgendered community and a love letter to Joan’s memory.”
But his elation proved to be short-lived. Just hours after the announcement, hate mail flooded the “DWTS” mes­sage board and chat rooms around the country with protests.
Chaz was born Chastity to Cher and the late Sonny Bono, and while still a woman, she shared a torrid love affair with the 23-years-older Joan, who died at age 47 in 1994 of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
 “Joan was a close friend of Cher’s and served as a baby sitter for her two chil­dren, Chastity and Elijah Blue,” said the source.
“Years later, a lesbian love affair between Chas­tity and Joan bloomed – and they moved in together. When Joan got sick, Chastity be­came her caregiver till the end.”
But after Joan’s death, anguished Chastity could barely function. She spent her days crying and rarely came out of her house. To this day, Chaz will admit that losing Joan caused more pain than he knew was pos­sible.
“It was a horribly bleak time,” confided the friend.
In 2002, Joan’s still-grieving part­ner confessed to The ENQUIRER that the heart-shattering death directly contributed to a tempo­rary addiction to Vicodin painkillers.
But Joan’s memory also propelled Cher’s outspoken offspring to become a powerful gay advocate, say sources.
“Chaz is on a mission to change the world’s perception of transgendered people, and he believes by dancing with style and grace in front of millions, he just might accomplish that goal.”