Openly gay musician Chuck Panozzo is bassist and founding member of the multi-platinum rock band Styx and author of the new book The Grand Illusion: Love, Lies and my Life with Styx (Amacom Books). Told with disarming honesty, the book relates Panozzo's decades-long struggle to reconcile his public “straight rock star” life with his inner, authentic gay self.

Panozzo spent many years in the closet because he was afraid his gay sexuality would offend family, friends, bandmates and fans. His sense of shame and self-denial continued even after he became HIV-positive in 1991.

Before I was ‘out',” Panozzo tells, “I had become more and more withdrawn within my professional career. Here I was, stuck in this touring band, and not really being myself. The idea of connecting eye to eye with the audience became almost impossible for me to do.”

Panozzo finally came out in 2001 at age 53. Doing so changed everything, especially his ability to relate to audiences.

“I was never so much afraid of being ‘outed',” he says, “as I was afraid that someone would rob me of the opportunity to out myself. Coming out publicly created a 180-degree change in my life and my psyche. Now when I perform onstage, there's a real reduction in the fear factor. My performing now is so much more exhilarating, my involvement so much more fun.”
Rocking Out – Male Musicians Straddle the Closet
By Robert Urban, Contributing Writer
July 17, 2007
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