Prayers for Bobby: a Movie Review

Based on a True Story from the Early 1980s

Mary Griffith, a very religious, ‘Bible-believing’ mother (played by Sigourney Weaver) discovers that her 16-year-old son, Bobby, thinks he might be gay. Immediately, she begins to do everything she can to change him back to his former purity.

Among her efforts are constant discussion with her son on the evils of homosexuality and the need for him to resist it, placing written Bible verses all over his spaces in the home, and taking him to a very non-supportive counselor. She encourages him to pray to God for healing and restoration.

Prayers for Bobby

Click the photo to go to the movie at Amazon

Bobby’s Story

While Bobby tries his best to deal with his situation, his mother is unrelenting in trying to lead him away from his gayness. At one point she tells him pointedly, ‘I will not have a gay son!’ Soon after this, Bobby moves away from home, and out of his mother’s reach, to live with a cousin who is more sympathetic.

In the new city, Bobby meets and develops a relationship with David; but at the same time he continues to feel the pain and rejection from his mother. Finally he goes to an overpass, jumps to the highway below, and is struck and killed by an 18-wheeler. His last thought is his mother’s words: ‘I will not have a gay son!’

The self-righteous and insensitive comments of the minister who officiated at Bobby’s funeral made me absolutely furious.

Bobby’s story is over. He was 20 years old.

But Mary Griffith’s story is not over…

Mary’s Story

After receiving Bobby’s effects, Mary finds a journal Bobby kept and realizes the struggle he experienced. She also finds a handout from the local MCC (Metropolitan Community Church) that accepts gays and where Bobby visited a couple times. She visits the pastor and is upset with him for telling young people lies about God accepting gays as they are.

However, this becomes the beginning of a search, difficult at the beginning, to consider whether her ‘biblical’ understanding about the Bible’s condemnation of gays is valid. Eventually, she determines that they are not and that she was wrong all along. Her response, at one point, is ‘I killed Bobby!’

Mary goes on to become a strong friend and advocate for gay and lesbian youth.

About the Movie

This movie is based on a true story; there was a Bobby Griffith, and his mother was Mary. These are real people, and the events did occur. David died at the bridge in 1983. But this is not just one true story; the struggles, family rejection, and even suicide are parts of a story experienced by untold numbers of gay youth every day.

This was a very emotional film for me, and you might find yourself fighting tears at some points. As a progressive evangelical, I can attest to the accuracy of the way the conservative evangelicals in this film are portrayed. It is not fabricated or exaggerated.

Keep in mind that this is a TV movie (Lifetime-2009), so don’t expect a big-screen theatrical production. But with that being said, I think the movie is exceptionally well done. The characters were well-played, and Sigourney Weaver deserves the award nominations she received for playing Mary (two Primetime Emmys and a Golden Globe).

The DVD is available at Amazon or you can see it free on YouTube.

The 1996 book is also available at Amazon.

More Stuff

The Real Mary Griffith: A two-minute YouTube video

The Bobby Griffith Memorial Scholarship

And a quote…

“Before you echo ‘Amen’ [to gay condemnation] in your home or place of worship,
think and remember…a child is listening.” ~ Mary Griffith

Thanks to reader IntellectualWithHeart for recommending this film to me.

This entry was posted in alienation, book or movie review, gays, hate, judgment and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Prayers for Bobby: a Movie Review

  1. michaeleeast says:

    Even though Mary changes in the end I wonder if this film is not counter-productive if it shows so much religious bigotry at the beginning.
    I would be wary of watching it myself.


    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      I understand your point Michael, but I think the religious bigotry is a factual response to gay issues right now, and gays are already aware of that. I can see how it might re-open some wounds, but this true story demonstrates very well how terrible that religious bigotry is and how we can overcome it individually.

      I don’t see this film as a resource for gay people but for those who are actively or passively anti-gay. They are the ones who need this insight. And I think it is effective.


      • fiddlrts says:

        I would agree that the hostility of conservative Christianity to LGBT people is hardly a secret. I’ve had this argument with people who want the “religious freedom” to avoid giving housing and jobs (for example) to gays, that if they don’t make sure that everyone knows “God’s” view on the subject, they will be responsible for the hellfire that results. When I counter with the obvious fact that only a person living under a rock would miss the fact that most conservative Christians do not approve of homosexuality, I just get blank stares…

        Part of my own journey on this subject was the realization that there is a high suicide rate among LGBT teens, and that the rate is far higher when parents and community reject them. Suicide is not, last I checked, a desirable outcome – and it not an example of “good fruit.” If the tree is bearing rotten fruit, perhaps we need to reexamine the tree.


        • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

          Fiddlrts, I agree with you completely. And regarding the religious freedom to discriminate against gays–civil rights should always trump religious freedom in America. Freedom to discriminate is NOT a civil right.


      • michaeleeast says:

        I agree. I think this film is for those who are sick not those who are well.


  2. freeoneindeed says:

    Excellent portray of a sad reality. Unfortunately, this is true in many other fronts. Human history shows how groups of like-minded people have had this evil tendency to eradicate those who are or seem different to them. But the greatest tragedy, in my eyes, lies in the fact that those claiming spiritual enlightenment have been guilty of displaying themselves as most ignorant. I am ashamed to say I used to be in that category. Thank God for HIs Grace and Mercy!

    Good review Tim!


    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      “The greatest tragedy, in my eyes, lies in the fact that those claiming spiritual enlightenment have been guilty of displaying themselves as most ignorant.”

      So true. The ‘spiritually enlightened’ have been among the most harmful and cruel people for many hundreds of years. I think it is because they think they DO know the truth of all things; this is a dangerous condition.

      Thanks, Free!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. epic says:

    I watched this after reading this review. Great movie, and important for Christians to watch. I feel like I was taught that homosexuals were evil people with a hidden agenda to push on society, and this movie really challenged my thinking on that. Thanks for posting!


    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Epic, I am glad you liked the film. And I agree with you that it is an important film for Christians to watch. Not everyone will be affected by it, but I think many will see things in a new way.


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