There are films that I believe should be seen. One such film was shown on the Lifetime Channel this past week called Prayers for Bobby. It is the heart wrenching true story of a mother’s journey and re-evaluation of her faith and attitudes towards gay people, once her gay son committed suicide by throwing himself off a freeway overpass into an oncoming 18 wheeler truck.
It is based on the book of the same name and everyone should pick up a copy and read it. It really tells of the journey out of bigotry and a deeper spiritual growth of a person.
Sigourney Weaver is excellent as the lead character Mary Griffith. She captures Mary’s relentless Christian devotion that obsesses her life coupled with her obvious love for her son. It is wonderful to see Weaver take her character through the stages of growth and understanding that finally emerges. She draws you into Mary’s journey and experience.
Ryan Kelley, who plays Bobby Griffith, is also empathetic as that good kid struggling with his sexual identity and self esteem. It is heartbreaking to watch him reach that dark place in his life where he felt no option but to end it. I felt myself wishing if only someone was there on that overpass that night. He was so young to end his life. I wept.
I came out later in my life. It was difficult and painful. I came out from a deeply religious background. There was a point that I actually was in the same place as Bobby was emotionally when he was on that overpass. Thankfully, at my darkest moment, I found a reason to live.
There are many young LGBT people who commit suicide each year. In fact, their suicide rate exceeds the national average. Gary and I have worked with LGBT youth in the past and know that the most vulnerable ones are those who lose their parental support system when they come out.
Many of them come from “good” Christian homes where they have been told by their own parents that they are going to hell and that they are no longer accepted in the home. You cannot imagine the emotional and spiritual damage that parents do to their children with such mandates. Most of these kids spin into self destructive behaviors or, like Bobby, end their lives.
Whatever Biblical justification they use, what they spew out to their children is hate. It is the kind that does not draw them towards God but away from Him. It is self-righteousness raised at its highest bar, perpetuated from certain church pulpits, where targeting certain groups and grandstanding against them has become a religious staple, that is not faith promoting, but is religious lynching.
Prayers for Bobby showed how Mary Griffith was able to find the real heart of her faith which was love and was able to translate it to a living and breathing way of life. She did not lose her faith. She actually found it and became one of the biggest advocates of human rights in the nation. She actually embodies the example of the teacher from Nazareth she loves and worships.
Prayers for Bobby remind us that we all must take part to continue to educate and to work on advocacy programs to save our youth. We must let them know that their lives are of value and worth living.
“Before you echo Amen in your home or place of worship, think and remember. A child is listening.”