Title: Prayers for Bobby: A Mother's Coming to Terms With the Suicide of Her Gay Son
Author: Leroy Aarons
Genre: True Story
Theme: Gay Bashing, Suicide, Homophobia, Religion vs. Homosexuality
Published: 9 August 1996
Synopsis: Bobby Griffith, at the age of 15, realized that he was gay and in conflict with his religious upbringing. Through Bobby's journal entries and his mother's reminiscences we learn of the emotional torment that led Bobby to take his own life. Prayers for Bobby takes readers through his mother's anguish and disbelief to her transformation from biblical literalist to enlightened parent.
Title: Prayers for Bobby
Director: Russell Mulcahy
Actor(s): Sigourney Weaver, Ryan Kelley
Genre: True Story
Theme: Homophobia, Gay Bashing, Teen Suicide, Religion vs. Homosexuality
Runtime: 91 mins
DVD Release Date: 14 December 2010
Synopsis: Academy Award nominee and Golden Globe winner Sigourney Weaver stars in this emotional true story about a deeply religious suburban housewife and mother who struggles to accept her son’s homosexuality. Mary Griffith (Weaver) is a devout Christian who has raised her children with a conservative religious perspective. When her son, Bobby (Ryan Kelley), reveals that he is gay to his older brother, the entire family dynamic is forever shifted. While Bobby’s father and siblings slowly come to terms with his homosexuality, Mary turns to her steadfast beliefs in an attempt to “cure” her son. Alienated and quickly becoming more detached from the safety of his close-knit family, Bobby’s depression drives him to take drastic – and tragic – actions. PRAYERS FOR BOBBY is the multiple Emmy Award and Golden Globe Award nominated true story of a mother torn between her loyalties, challenged by her faith, and moved by a tragedy that would change her life, and the lives of others, forever. Based on the book Prayers for Bobby by Leroy Aarons.
Brian's Comparison & Analysis: Prayers for Bobby is based on a true story. The lives of mother and son cross. After finding out that her teenage son Bobby is gay, his mother, Mary Griffith, sets out on a course to “cure” her son of his homosexuality. Her faith and religious upbringing has taught her that being gay is an abomination. Adding to her worry is the constant fear of her family not being together in the afterlife. She not only posted index cards all around the house with Bible saying on them but also made Bobby go to therapy to get "fixed". Bobby, being raised in such a God-fearing environment, was also afraid of being sent to hell for being gay. He didn’t want to be gay for fear of God’s wrath for “choosing” to live this lifestyle. In truth, Bobby couldn’t come to terms with who he was.
This story is set in the late 1970’s early 1980’s where the AIDS Epidemic started. Also, you had Harvey Milk being elected to the Board of Supervisors and the Stonewall Riots. Being gay was slowly making its way into the media. Most of the attention was on the negative side, painting gays as sex crazed perverts who are a danger to our children. This is what Bobby heard and saw, so he most likely personalized it. After all, he was a young gay man, trying to find himself in the world he lived in.
In the book by Leroy Aarons, Bobby seemed to slowly come to terms with his homosexuality, but his small progress would be cut short after hearing his mother's voice say, “You are going to burn in Hell if you don’t change.” His struggle would start all over again. What is not covered in the movie, is Bobby starting to embrace his homosexuality. But from the excerpts from his journals, Bobby Griffith was full of self-hatred. Now when I read Prayers for Bobby, I often asked myself, How is it possible that one person could fight against and have so much self-hatred for who they are?
As you read the excerpts from his journals, you soon realize that Bobby couldn’t accept himself because it brought him away from his family and what he believed in. He strongly believed that no one loved him, not even his family. It was the fighting, the struggling, the trying to “cure himself” and the feeling of being unloved that brought Bobby to the end of his life. Bobby completed suicide by jumping off a freeway overpass directly into the path of an 18 wheel truck which killed him instantly. He suffered severe internal injuries, that couldn’t have been repaired. Bobby was finally free from his hell.Now for his mother Mary, whose journey begins after her son Bobby’s ends so tragically. She constantly questioned whether Bobby made it to heaven or ended up in hell. Both the movie and the book make it clear on how his death rocked Mary. Not only did she question where Bobby's soul ended up, but after meeting Rev. Larry Whitsell of the Metropolitan Community Church, she started to question everything she believed in and was taught throughout her life.
Prayers for Bobby, the movie, was directed by Russell Mulcany and starred Sigourney Weaver as Mary Griffith. In the film, Rev. Whitsell introduced Mary to PFLAG (Parents, Families, & Friends of Lesbians And Gays). As Mary listened to the other parents discussing when they knew their child was different, it started to cause the wheels in her head to turn. It finally came to her when she realized that Bobby was different. “My son was always different, his difference began at conception, I knew it I felt it...I now know why God didn’t heal Bobby, because there was nothing wrong with him.” From there, Mary became enlightened to the fact that her son is in heaven and that there was nothing wrong with Bobby.From then on Mary started speaking and soon she became a fighting force for LGBT Youth through California and the country. In 1996, she spoke in front of the U.S Congress. The truth is, you can’t mention Human Rights without mentioning Mary Griffith, who has made it her life’s purpose to help Gay and Lesbian youth. So in conclusion, I want to dedicate this article to Mary Griffith for her work in bringing change. And also to the memory of Bobby Griffith and Leroy Aarons, may you both rest in peace. Much love to you both.
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