Prayers for Bobby
Aired On: Lifetime Network
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
When you think made-for-TV movie, you donít ordinarily think of Sigourney Weaver, an Oscar-winning actress with quite an impressive resume filled with blockbuster feature films. So when I heard that Sigourney Weaver was playing the lead role in a Lifetime Network premiere movie based on a true story, I just had to check it out.
In Prayers for Bobby, Sigourney Weaver portrays Mary Griffith, a devout 1970s Christian woman who learns that her son is gay. Unable to accept that being homosexual is not a choice and believing that being gay is against every Christian belief she has, Mary looks to God for a cure. While Bobbyís family comes to accept him as a homosexual, Mary pushes Bobby to pray for a cure and to get involved in Church activities that might break him of this ďhabit.Ē
Seeking his motherís approval, Bobby goes along with all she asks of him, but in doing so, begins a long, dark spiral into depression. Hoping to ease some of the pain he has caused his mother, Bobby moves away, only to sink deeper into depression. No longer able to deal with the guilt he feels, Bobby commits suicide, jumping off an overpass into the path of an on-coming truck.
Bobbyís suicide puts Maryís faith to the test. Her beliefs say that her sonís homosexuality is an abomination and that his suicide is a sin against God. Yet her heart tells her that this beautiful, caring, pure of heart and soul individual was not an abomination and would never willingly sin.
Struggling to find an answer, Mary comes to realize that perhaps it was not her son who was wrong, but her interpretation of all she has been taught. After all, does the Church not teach tolerance? Can we trust manís interpretation of the Bible, a manís written interpretation of the Lordís teachings? Mary begins to realize that Bobby was not an abomination, but a gift from God. His homosexuality was what made him different, not what made him sinful. She realizes that if she had supported her son instead of making him feel unholy and ashamed of who he was, Bobby may be alive today. In an effort to atone for her sins, Mary Griffith becomes a gay rights activist, teaching tolerance over hate and love over suppression.
I was surprised by the positive path Prayers for Bobby took. I was half expecting the characters in the film to denounce the Churchís teachings outright. This would have been the wrong path to follow. The Church teaches love and tolerance above all other things. The biblical interpretations that make homosexuality a sin are interpretations made by humans, who all agree have a propensity to be fallible. But the tenets of love and tolerance taught in the Bible are something that no one can misinterpret. Thus, I was happy that the movie sought not to denounce the teachings of Christianity, but to embrace them. By doing so, the movie represents homosexuality as a gift from God that should not be looked down upon or treated with hate and intolerance. In a few words, this movie says that God loves all His children, no matter their differences.
It is no surprise that Sigourney Weaver turns out an excellent performance as Mary Griffith. Were this a blockbuster film, she would up for an Oscar nomination for this emotional role. Ryan Kelley does an admirable job portraying Bobby Griffith, a young man torn between his feelings and his guilt over embarrassing his family.
Prayers for Bobby is an excellent vehicle for teaching tolerance and acceptance of homosexuals. Although the story is a sad one, the message is positive and uplifting. This is a Lifetime movie worth watching.