I first came across the 2009 TV film Prayers for Bobby (IMDB, Wikipedia) in 2012 and resolved to watch it eventually. I finally got to do that late last year. I heartily recommend everybody to see it, especially those who are struggling with feelings of rejection due to their sexual orientation. There are a few uploads of the complete film on YouTube, such as this one.
Based on a book with the same title, Prayers for Bobby tells the true story of Bobby Griffith and his relationship with his mother, Mary Griffith, a very conservative Christian parent (portrayed very well by Sigourney Weaver). The year was 1979 and Bobby’s homosexuality was revealed to his family. This prompted Mary to help “cure” her son through religion and therapy. This proved unsuccessful and Bobby’s depression and feelings of rejection from his mother led him to commit suicide a few years later. Devastated by his death, Mary started questioning her religious stance against homosexuality and eventually came to terms with her son’s death. In doing so, she became an outspoken advocate for gay rights.
While that paragraph above pretty much tells the whole story, reading about it and actually seeing the film are two very different things. I secretly watched the movie on my laptop hoping that nobody else in the household sees or hears what I was watching. But it was very hard not getting teary-eyed at some scenes and dialogue in the film. The following line uttered by Mary while confiding to a gay-friendly pastor is pretty heart-wrenching, as is her wonderful speech towards the end of the movie.
“I know now why God didn’t heal Bobby. He didn’t heal him because … [breaks down in pained sobbing] … there was nothing wrong with him!”
While conditions nowadays is a far cry from the early eighties during Bobby’s time, there is still a lot more that can be improved. I pray that the day will come when there would be no more Bobbys, Tylers, and Jameys. I just hope that that day would come soon enough.