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Posts for January, 2009

“Prayers For Bobby” Tonight, Focus Shifts Blame

Jim Burroway

January 24th, 2009

As a programming reminder, “Prayers for Bobby” will premiere tonight on the Lifetime Channel at 9:00p.m. Eastern and Pacific, with encores scheduled on Jan. 25 at 8:00 p.m. and Jan. 27 at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT. The movie tells the true story of Bobby Griffith, who committed suicide after a four year struggle to reconcile his orientation with the pressures from his family to pray his gay away.

Bobby’s mother, Mary, had an interesting observation about her own mindset before Bobby’s death:

Q: Do you think Bobby’s story would have been different if he’d come out in today’s time?

A: No, unfortunately. My mind-set was completely tied up in the word of the gospel, and I couldn’t hear anything differently. It wouldn’t have made a difference whether this happened yesterday or several years ago. I couldn’t hear anything else.

Q. What advice would you give to parents who have just found out that their child is gay?

A. I’ve talked to many parents about this over the years. And I guess I’d just tell them to listen to their kids and to try not to push their opinions on them.

This is sage advice from someone who learned through a terrible tragedy the harm that can come when a parent doesn’t fully accept a son. Unfortunately, Focus On the Family refuses to listen to the voices of tragic experiences, and shifts the blame for what happened back onto Bobby’s parents:

Jeff Johnston, gender analyst at Focus on the Family, said the movie’s message runs contrary to God’s. “Parents can love their kids and still hold to what the Bible says about homosexuality and human sexuality,” he said.

It takes an awful lot of arrogance to pretend that this isn’t precisely what Mary was doing. Apparently Johnston and Focus On the Family are just that arrogant.

Prayers for Bobby

Timothy Kincaid

January 6th, 2009

A study just found a sharp distinction between the behavior of gay teens with accepting parents and those who were rejected by their parents. One story of the consequences that can come from religion-based rejection is being told in Prayers for Bobby.

On August 27, 1983, Bobby Griffith took his own life. This was the end of his four year struggle to reconcile his orientation with the pressures from his family to pray his gay away.

But Bobby left behind extensive diaries. And a distraught mother.

Unlike some parents who, when confronted with the destructive nature of their rejection, seek to absolve themselves and blame their children, Mary Griffith was shocked into self-evaluation. And the result of her journey of discovery was life-changing. Mary recognized that she had been instrumental in her son’s distruction and decided to become an activist for the care and support of gay teens and for changing the attitudes of parents.

In 1995 came the book, Prayers for Bobby: A Mother’s Coming to Terms with the Suicide of Her Gay Son.

Now on January 24th, Lifetime Channel will be tell Mary’s story (starring Sigourney Weaver). The network has been heavily promoting this movie and let’s hope that many many families are watching.

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