In 1995 an incredibly powerful book was published by Harper Collins. This book called "Prayers for Bobby" by Leroy Aarons completely turned me inside and out when I finally read it years after it was published after making my way through the minefield that is the "ex-gay" movement.
"Prayers for Bobby" completely captured the internal battle of the mind that ensued when I, a gay man tried to change my sexual orientation based on religious proselytizing and indoctrination by others.
The novel recounts the incredible mental torment and anguish that 20 year old Bobby Griffith was living with until the day he decided to end his personal hell by committing suicide by throwing himself off of a highway overpass and into the path of an oncoming tractor trailer.
Bobby had been continually forced to hear anti-gay Bible verses drilled into him daily by his mother Mary Griffith who felt that she had all life's answers taken care of in the pages of her well worn and weathered "Holy Bible".
The book makes painfully clear the result of Mary's complete and unquestioning belief in her Bible. There are numerous entries from Bobby's personal diary throughout the book where we see the horrid battle that was going on inside of his mind as revealed in phrases like: " I must deserve everything that happens to me." "The funny thing is that I didn't realize until now how bad a person I must really be". His personal hell got much worse: "I want to take a fuckin ice pick to my face and stab it till there's nothin left."
Bobby killed himself on Aug 27th, 1983 That same year I was 15 and had just entered Crosier Seminary Catholic High School: my own start on a long journey of religious misinformation telling me I could not be a GLBT person. Eventually, through much research, I found my way out of self hatred and to complete self acceptance and self-esteem and love as a gay man. Bobby never had that chance.
Lifetime Television will present the world premiere of the movie adaptation of "Prayers for Bobby" on Saturday, January 24th. For more information, please go to: www.prayersforbobby.com
I have seen the commercials on Lifetime for this picture. It looks terrific. It seems to unabashedly and boldly tell the truth about how misguided religion causes pain, suffering and death. The people who need to see it the most, fundamentalists themselves, probably won't be watching, but they certainly should.
When I meditate on the fact that Jesus welcomed and in fact embraced outsiders, I am always amazed at how far right-wing religion misses the mark. The One they claim to worship was a man who was accepting of lepers, women, tax collectors and other outsiders of the time, an acceptance which would eventually cause him to be crucified by the religious fundamentalists of his day.
posted by Chris L., at
1/22/2009 11:10 AM
I would just like to add that the mental health profession is trying to get people to stop using the word 'commit' with suicide. One can't commit a disease. Bobby died 'from' suicide or 'he suicided'. The only sins and crimes that were *commited*, were by his willfully ignorant and hateful church and his poor brainwashed mother.
posted by gary, at
1/22/2009 1:53 PM
Wayne, you went to a Catholic School??? You're Jewish! That must have felt very weird. It would have definitely felt "not right" to say the least, in my case.
posted by Emily K, at
1/22/2009 2:14 PM
When he shows up, it's amazing how the Devil always claims to be God. Organizations like Focus on the Family (FOTF), the American Family Association (AFA) and others are purveyors of the darkest evil.
No one who has a heart of love and compassion for fellow humanity could possibly continue to reject gays and lesbians, as those groups and their members still stubbornly do, in light of all of the evidence (both scientific and anecdotal) that proves that the idea of being "ex-gay" is anything but quackery. I question how any thinking person could possibly, in the year 2009, believe that gay people can somehow become heterosexual, through willpower or through "Jesus Christ."
The people who are truly doing "God's work" are people like Wayne. Because of Wayne's tireless work over the past years battling the evil ex-gay lie, lives and families have been saved. I have little doubt that there are gay people walking around today who would otherwise be dead if it were not for Wayne's efforts. I will be thinking of him when I watch this picture on Saturday night.
posted by Chris L., at
1/22/2009 2:16 PM
Jesus also tolerated slavery, he instructed his followers to hate their families, and he once cursed a fig tree.
Right-wingers aren't "missing the mark". There is no mark to begin with. Like all mythology, the Christian Bible is a hodgepodge consisting of several different forms of literature, and as an entirely predictable result, it says a lot of various and inconsistent things. The right-wingers are just emphasizing different parts of it than you, but you're both picking and choosing.
You are right that they are ignoring scientific evidence. Of course they are. They're religious.
That's interesting, I haven't heard that yet, I'll have to ask my partner if he has, since he's a social psychologist.
I can see how there may be a movement to find a less loaded word than "commit". However from what I know of psychology and the way diseases are diagnosed, I don't believe "suicide" can be objectively classified as a "disease". Suicide is the act of killing yourself. Depression is a mental illness and can lead someone to commit suicide. Conversely it is not inconceivable that a person who is not suffering from a mental or physical illness might knowingly choose to end their own life.
Sorry to be so Spock-like, but when something as horrible as this happens, I think the last thing we should do is try to pile falsehoods onto the problem, even if some of them may seem comforting to us.
But something I think can be reasonably accepted is Chris' assertion that Wayne's work, and the work of others who are fighting against the ex-gay myth, is almost certainly saving lives.
posted by Eshto, at
1/22/2009 2:40 PM
Eshto, I agree completely that the Bible is collected mythology. It's a patchwork of 66 different writings (72 in the Catholic Bible, they don't even agree 2000 years later which books are inspired) which were altered and changed for hundreds of years.
Changes were done purposefully by self-serving copyists and accidentally by the obvious limitations which result from verbally passing down a story through hundreds of years.
Nonetheless, the people who claim to follow it still miss the message of Jesus, mythological or not, who said that ALL THE LAW was fulfilled through love, that loving one's neighbor was one of the greatest commandments. The man's message was love, and he was crucified for not rejecting certain groups of people.
Most fundamentalists are completely ignorant of the Bible's history. Some even seem to believe that God snapped his fingers and a leather-bound book of truth suddenly appeared. Their ignorance is staggering, and it's not just limited to gays and lesbians.
As we all know, even if there were no Bible, the haters would still be the haters, and the peacemakers would still be the peacemakers.
posted by Chris L., at
1/22/2009 2:54 PM
I was in a hurry today - on a few deadlines. Someone wrote this for me to promote the worthy film. So the "I"that went to Catholic School was not me.
Sorry, that this was not clear. But, I do miss the nuns I never met.
Sorry Eshto, I should have been more clear. I know suicide is not an illness, but usually the end result of mental illness. I cant speak for all the medical profession of course, but from what I've read, eliminating the word 'commit' would help to remove the stigma not only from suicide attempters who survive, but also from their families should they complete the act. The word 'commit' comes from when suicide was considered a crime as well as a sin. I dont know of any jurisdiction that prosecutes a survivor of a suicide attempt, as we now know it's a medical problem, not a legal or moral one. People who've never been in a state of clinical suicidal depression have no idea what it's like (I experienced this 30 years ago when I was in my 20s). You're not capable of thinking rationally nor of the real consequences to yourself and your family. It's like being tortured, you will do *anything* to make it stop.
posted by gary, at
1/22/2009 4:55 PM