Saturday, January 03, 2009

Prayers for Bobby

Some years ago I picked up a book entitled Prayers for Bobby. The book stabbed me through my heart. It was one of the saddest, most tragic stories I had ever read and what really broke me was that the entire story is true. This is the story of Mary Griffith and her relationship with her son, Bobby.

Mary Griffith was a fanatical fundamentalist. Her church was hard-core and she believed every word they taught her. And that included hating homosexuals. What she didn't know was as she was attacking gays that her youngest son was confessing in his diary that he was gay and terrified that his own family hated him for it. Bobby Griffith wrote:
"I can't ever let anyone find out that I'm not straight. It would be so humiliating. My friends would hate me. They might even want to beat me up. And my family? I've overheard them. They've said they hate gays, and even God hates gays, too. Gays are bad, and God sends bad boys to hell. It really scares me when they are talking about me."
Mary Griffith learned the truth and she set out to use the power of prayer to change her son into a heterosexual. She put on a full time campaign to harass her son into becoming straight. All she managed to do was drive him into a deep depression. Mary was unrelenting, she had God on her side and she wasn't about to give up. And sure enough, one day, Bobby stopped being gay. He had killed himself instead.

Prayers for Bobby is the gut-wrenching story of how Mary Griffith evolved. We follow her through the intolerance of Christian fundamentalism, through her mourning and the self-realization that her religion and the hatred it taught her were directly contributed to the death of her son.

Now the story has been brought to film starring Sigourney Weaver as Mary Griffith. This won't be an easy film to watch. But I urge you to do so if possible. Prayers for Bobby will be airing on the Lifetime Network on January 24th. I hope it is seen by many. But in my experience, the people who need it the most, the millions of Americans who are repeating Mary Griffith's mistakes, will refuse to see it. No, they will do more than that, they will condemn the film and simply use it as an additional excuse to indulge their consuming hatred of others. And the result will be more tragedies, tragedies that could have been averted if they simply could learn to love.

Above is a preview of the film. To the right is a photo of Bobby Griffith. I should note that I fear the film producers will soft-pedal some of the facts. In the book it is clear that Mary Griffith stopped being a believing Christian entirely. I suspect that mainstream America isn't ready for that fact and it might be left out of the film.

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