This is June, the pride month and I think it is the right time to revisit Prayers for Bobby (2009), the movie which has changed my understanding of sexual orientation as a whole. I have watched several LGBTQ movies before and after this one. What Prayers for Bobby has done to me differently compared to these movies is that it affected me deeply by its innocent teenage titular character, Bobby and made me do some reading on this topic.
Prayers for Bobby is the real life story of Mary Griffith and her son Bobby, who was compelled to undergo curing therapy sessions after revealing his sexual orientation to his mother. Bobby is an innocent teen who doesn’t even know the feelings which he has is right or wrong and goes to these sessions initially for the love of his mother, a devout Christian who believed God can cure him. But he realizes that the therapy is not doing him any good and leaves his home when Mary tells him, “I will not have a gay son”. Mary’s ignorance and adamance finally result in losing Bobby forever and only then she starts asking questions to herself.
Sigourney Weaver as Mary Griffith was the best thing that happened to the movie. A performance which enraged us initially and broke our heart later. The way Weaver recreated Mary’s Speech at Walnut Creek city council meeting supporting a local “gay day” live on television was simply outstanding. There was an arc in that speech which starts with a kind of anger at herself for the parent that she was, to the heartbreak of losing her son and finally coming to terms with it. Weaver pulled it off quite magnificently and it is sure to tear you apart. Bobby is a character which goes through several emotions, initially guilt-stricken, briefly finding love in another person, ultimately loosing to depression. Ryan Kelley delivered a superb job here as Bobby.
Prayers for Bobby is a heartbreaking story of how youth are thrown into severe distress and agony by sheer ignorance from the parents and the society with respect to sexual orientation. Even today there are many countries including India, who are debating whether to make gay marriages legal or not. Still there are conversion therapy organizations running and societies looking at gays as worst creatures there can be. This is what makes this movie still relevant. The movie calls for research instead of following blindly what you have been told by your religion or faith. For Mary to open her eyes, her son had to sacrifice his life. With very minimum attention to truths, she realized her mistakes and went onto become a gay rights activist and remained a crusader until her death last year.
Surely, Prayers for Bobby is a movie which will impact you and is a must watch if you haven’t already !!