Friday, January 23, 2009
Prayers For Bobby
from Lifetime....television for women....and gay men. I've always loved that joke.
But now Lifetime has stepped it up from the usual woman-in-peril-cheating-murdering-husband movies, to Prayers for Bobby, airing Saturday, January 24 at 9 pm, with encores on Sunday, January 25 at 8 pm and Tuesday, January 27 at 9 pm et/pt.
It's the story of a young man who killed himself because his parents would not accept him as gay.
Sure, it's TV; it's Lifetime. But this story is all too frequent, even in these days when we're all supposed to be so enlightened. Many gay men and women, young like Bobby Griffith, or even older, are pushed into so much shame about who they are, that they believe the only way out is suicide.
This story wounds me. Think of all that Bobby Griffith could have been if he'd lived; all he might have done. But we'll never know the last chapter to that story because the book was cut short. think of all the lives of gay men and women that were cut short through murder or suicide, and all that those lives might have meant to the rest of us.
You can say being gay is a choice. It's not.
You can say being gay is a lifestyle. It isn't.
You can say being gay is a persuasion. I wasn't 'persuaded.'
You can say it's a preference. It isn't.
But no matter what you think of being gay, no one....no one...should have to die because of it.
No one should have to die simply because they're gay.
Here is an excerpt from the book, Prayers for Bobby:
Bobby was choking on his secret. He needed desperately to confide in someone. The diary was not enough. It helped, but he longed to unburden himself to another human, someone who could help him sort out the powder keg of feelings imploding within. But who? He couldn't tell his parents, certainly not his mother. He had no friends he trusted enough. Joy? Ed?
He turned to Ed, setting off a chain of events that might have made him wish he had kept his secret to himself and his diary.
Ed Griffith turned seventeen on a rainy day in late April 1979. He was a junior in high school, an accomplished athlete with dreams of being a professional baseball player. Ed was a strapping, muscular young man, with sandy hair and a square, chiseled chin. He was a straight shooter free of guile or subterfuge. He believed deeply in the Gospel and the teachings of his church. For the longest time as a child he related being a Christian to being a soldier. He loved war movies, toy soldiers, playing army. Yet behind his macho aspect there was a caring, nonjudgmental person.
Perhaps it was those traits that led Bobby to choose his brother as the person to whom he would unburden himself one warm spring afternoon in May. The two lounged near the blooming apricot tree in the family's backyard. Bobby, a month away from turning sixteen, seemed very nervous. Finally, he said, "There is something awful I have to tell you. You are going to really hate me and never want to talk to me again."
Ed's heart fluttered with a rush of worry. He imagined everything from criminal activity to drugs. He responded, "Bobby, it doesn't matter what it is. I'm never going to stop loving you.
It was true. They had grown up together, sharing the same small bedroom. They had had many a long heart-to-heart through the years. They were different, true, and there were times they had been jerks to each other. But their love for one another was solid. What's more, Bobby trusted Ed.
Bobby said in a choked voice, "I'm gay."
Ed breathed a momentary sigh of relief. It could have been worse. He said, "Bobby, how do you know this?"
"I've known for a long time," Bobby answered.
"But how can you be sure?"
"I'm sure, Ed. Believe me, I'm sure." Bobby hung his head as if in pain. They talked some more, and Ed could see that Bobby considered his gayness to be a terrible defect.
Ed asked, "Are you going to tell Mom and Dad, or see a counselor?"
Bobby flared, "No! I want you to promise you won't tell anyone, especially Mom and Dad!"
Reluctantly, he said, "Okay, okay, I promise."
Nothing in life had prepared Ed for such a burden. Homosexuality. It was like something from another planet. He had seen it on television. And he'd heard different religious people say it was a choice and a sinful one at that. He preoccupied himself with other things and tried to convince himself that this crisis would work itself out. He had a new girlfriend, and it was baseball season. There was lots to distract him from such an unpleasant disclosure. Ed collaborated with nervous silence in keeping Bobby's secret.