‘Prayers for Bobby,’ a Primer for Parents of Gay Children

If you want to see a real tearjerker with a good message, watch Prayers for Bobby. It’s a Lifetime movie, but one of the few that may stand the test of time (continued reruns on cable) as it records the efforts of Mary Griffith to come to terms with her gay son’s suicide, and while it is TV quality, it is one of Sigourney Weaver’s better performances (Aliens is still the best though!).

The true story is simple enough: a son comes out of the closet in a moderately religious home in the seventies and the situation goes from bad to worse as the well-intentioned mother tries to fix her child using The Bible and therapy. Only too late does she realize there is nothing to fix. Bobby, in a world of emotional pain due to rejection by his mother and seemingly the world, and a new boyfriend who cheats (at least that’s the way it appeared), decides to end it all. A not uncommon story in the gay teen community. When you tear kids down in their adolescence they either give up or they recover in their adulthood. I don’t believe Christian fundamentalists realize how much damage they do when they denigrate gay people. Taking away a person’s self-esteem leaves them defenseless when esteem is most needed (first love break-ups or spousal abuse as examples).

As with all tragedies, people tend to reach deeper into their faith, question it, and often can come out of it as stronger people. This was the case for Mary Griffith who somehow had to find forgiveness for what she described in the film as breaking down her son’s self-esteem. It’s not surprising she became an activist for gay rights after joining Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) and at the end of the film it shows her looking enthusiastic as ever with white hair and a smile. Good for her, activism was her recovery.

This film is aimed at believers, in particular Christians, so freethinking atheists will probably roll their eyes at the Biblical explanations for why The Bible is not necessarily anti-gay. I’m not sure how defining “abomination” as “unclean” is really any better because if God presided over Israel and was allowing them to put gays to death (as well as all the other rules that could get you killed or banished for being unclean) then what good is that? Why even bother with The Bible? I guess the intention is that Biblical laws are not meant for all time periods. True, but if God does not change we can judge his past to get an idea of his opinions on certain social issues. You can interpret The Bible in its ancient context but how do you pull a modern God out of it?

Religious ties hold fast and are not easily cut. But it is better that the obvious hypocrisies of conservative/literalist Christianity are pointed out  in Prayers for Bobby.

If you’re a gay friendly Christian or a parent of a gay child, you’ll love the film. For us manly heterosexual men–watch it, absorb it, and then pop in Aliens! It is after all a Lifetime movie and there’s just so many tears you can take. Hell, even gay geeks like Aliens (you know you’re out there, reading comic books and watching cheezy movies just like I do).

2 thoughts on “‘Prayers for Bobby,’ a Primer for Parents of Gay Children

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *