Prayers for Bobby

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Prayers for Bobby
Film poster
Based onPrayers for Bobby
by Leroy F. Aarons
Written byKatie Ford (teleplay)
Directed byRussell Mulcahy
Theme music composerChristopher Ward
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
Executive producers
  • Chris Taaffe
  • Daniel Sladek
  • David Permut
  • Stanley M. Brooks
ProducerDamian Ganczewski
CinematographyThom Best
EditorVictor Du Bois
Running time89 minutes
Original release
NetworkLifetime Television
  • January 24, 2009 (2009-01-24)

Prayers for Bobby is a televised drama film that premiered on the Lifetime network on January 24, 2009. The film is based on the book of the same name by Leroy F. Aarons, which is itself based on the true story of the life and legacy of Bobby Griffith, a gay young man who killed himself in 1983 due to his mother's homophobia. Ryan Kelley stars as Bobby Griffith and Sigourney Weaver portrays his mother Mary.

The film was watched by more than 6 million viewers during its two-day initial run. It received positive reviews from critics and was nominated for two Primetime Emmy Awards: Outstanding Television Movie and Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie for Weaver, who was also nominated for a Golden Globe Award, and a Screen Actors Guild Award.


Mary Griffith is a devout Christian who raises her four children—Ed, Bobby, Joy and Nancy—according to the evangelical teachings of her local Presbyterian church in the late 1970s and early 1980s in Walnut Creek, California.

Ed finds Bobby resisting temptations to overdose on Aspirin as an initial suicide attempt before Bobby confides to him that he is gay. Life changes for the entire family after Mary learns about his secret. In hopes of converting him, she takes him to a psychiatrist, who explains to Bobby's parents that a person's homosexuality is the result of lacking a close relationship with their parents. She then advises Bobby to pray harder and seek solace in Church activities, as well as to arrange a special bonding time with his father. While spending such quality time with his father, Bobby explains his desire to become a writer, to which his father suggests "some dreams are just not realistic."

Bobby's father and siblings slowly come to terms with his homosexuality, but Mary believes God can cure him. To get away from his family, Bobby visits his cousin Jeanette in Portland, Oregon; she has always been accepting of his sexual orientation and tries to help him realize that his mother will never change. Desperate for his mother's approval, he does what is asked of him, but through it all, the Church's disapproval of homosexuality and his mother's attempts to suppress his growing behaviors in public cause him to grow increasingly withdrawn and depressed.

Stricken with guilt, Bobby finds a boyfriend, David, at a gay bar. Nonetheless, before leaving the house with David, Mary informs Bobby that she "will not have a gay son." After Bobby finds David betraying him for another man, he continues to think of his mother's words of prejudice, i.e., when saying "homosexuality is a sin and (gays) are doomed to spend eternity in hell," as well as calling him "sick," "perverted," and "a danger to our children." Following his subsequent depression and self-loathing which intensifies, one night he free falls off of a bridge onto a highway and into the path of an oncoming eighteen-wheeler truck, which kills him instantly. The family receives the news the following day and are devastated.

Faced with their tragedy, Mary begins to question herself and her Church's interpretation of Scripture. Through her long and emotional journey, Mary slowly reaches out to the gay community and discovers unexpected support from them. She becomes acquainted with a local reverend of the Metropolitan Community Church, who convinces her to attend a meeting of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG). It is there that she recalls Bobby being different from conception and reassures herself that his true value was in his heart.

Mary then gives a speech in a Walnut Creek city council meeting supporting a local "gay day" live on television. She tells of her experiences with Bobby, the struggles she had coping with him coming out of the closet and her stubbornness to reevaluate her religious beliefs which were nothing more than "bigotry" and "dehumanizing slander." Mary also acknowledges how she came to realize that Bobby's sexual orientation was quite natural in God's image and his suicide was subsequently due to poor parenting. She concludes her speech by urging people to think before they say, voice, or support homophobia because "a child is listening". The measure is rejected, but Mary and her family travel to San Francisco with fellow PFLAG members and walk in a gay pride parade, during which she sees another young man just like Bobby observing the parade. She walks over and hugs him, finally coming to terms with her son's death and vowing to work hard for the rights of gays and lesbians.



Executive producers David Permut, Daniel Sladek, and Chris Taaffe initiated and championed the project over a period of thirteen years. The film was directed by Russell Mulcahy. Screenwriter Katie Ford based the teleplay on the noted best-selling book Prayers for Bobby: A Mother's Coming to Terms with the Suicide of Her Gay Son by Leroy F. Aarons, a journalist who interviewed Mary Griffith about her experiences that led to the suicide of her son as well as her work advocating the rights of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender community. Griffith and Aarons are credited as co-producers on the film. Produced by Once Upon A Times Films, Ltd in association with Permut Presentations and Sladek Taaffe Productions, the other executive producer was Stanley M. Brooks.[1] The final scene of the film features "Here I Am" by Leona Lewis.



Prayers For Bobby received 3.8 million total viewers during the film's January 24, 2009 premiere on Lifetime, with 2.3 million total viewers subsequently during the January 25, 2009 airdate[2][3] with a combined total of 6.1 million viewers.

Critical reaction[edit]

Critics responded positively to the film, which received approval from 73% of 15 critics and an average rating of 6.4/10 on the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes. Critics' consensus on the website is "A devastating true story and terrific performance by Sigourney Weaver give Prayers for Bobby palpable power, although some viewers may find this well-intentioned film too calculating in its efforts to wring tears."[4] Brian Lowry of Variety wrote "Sigourney Weaver's TV movie debut proves worth the wait, as Lifetime's fact-based Prayers for Bobby revisits ground similar to that broken nearly 25 years ago by the AIDS-themed "An Early Frost" and – thanks to enduring religious-based bigotry toward gays – still feels fresh and poignant."[5]


Sigourney Weaver was given the Trevor Life Award from The Trevor Project for her participation in the film. The award was presented by Anne Hathaway.[6] In 2015, executive producers Daniel Sladek & Chris Taaffe were invited by the Vice President of the EU to the European Parliament in Brussels where they presented Prayers for Bobby to Members of Parliament on International Homophobia Day.[citation needed]

Year Award Category Recipient(s) and nominee(s) Result Ref.
2009 Gold Derby Awards TV Movie or Miniseries Prayers for Bobby Nominated [7]
TV movie/Mini Actress Sigourney Weaver Nominated
Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Made for Television Movie Daniel Sladek, Chris Taaffe, David Permut, Stanley M. Brooks, Damian Ganczewski Nominated [8]
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Movie Sigourney Weaver Nominated [9]
Satellite Award Best Actress – Miniseries or TV Film Nominated [10]
Seattle Gay & Lesbian Film Festival Audience Appreciation Award Favorite Narrative Film Prayers for Bobby Won [11]
2010 Dorian Awards LGBT-Themed TV Show of the Year Won [12]
TV Performance of the Year: Drama Sigourney Weaver Nominated
GLAAD Media Award Outstanding TV Movie or Miniseries Prayers for Bobby Won [13]
Golden Globe Award Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film Sigourney Weaver Nominated [14]
Producers Guild of America Award David L. Wolper Award for Outstanding Producer of Long-Form Television Stanley M. Brooks, David Permut, Daniel Sladek, Chris Taaffe, Damian Ganczewski Nominated [15][16]
Screen Actors Guild Award Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie Sigourney Weaver Nominated [17]

Home media[edit]

On December 7, 2010, Prayers for Bobby was released on DVD.[18]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Littleton, Cynthia (May 18, 2008). "Weaver answers 'Prayers'". Variety. Archived from the original on June 10, 2008.
  2. ^ Gorman, Bill (January 26, 2009). "Sigourney Weaver Starrer Prayers for Bobby Draws 3.8 Million Viewers". TV by the Numbers. Archived from the original on July 8, 2009. Retrieved May 14, 2009.
  3. ^ "Sigourney Weaver Starrer Prayers for Bobby Draws 3.8 Million Viewers During Its Saturday, January 24, Premiere on Lifetime Television". The Futon Critic. January 26, 2009. Retrieved August 6, 2020.
  4. ^ "Prayers for Bobby". Rotten Tomatoes. Archived from the original on April 10, 2019. Retrieved August 6, 2020.
  5. ^ Alexander Ryll (2014). "Essential Gay Themed Films To Watch, Prayers for Bobby". Gay Essential. Archived from the original on December 22, 2014. Retrieved December 22, 2014.
  6. ^ "The Trevor Project Annual Report" (PDF). The Trevor Project. p. 14. Archived (PDF) from the original on September 24, 2019.
  7. ^ "2009 Goldderby Tv Awards". March 7, 2016. Archived from the original on August 5, 2019. Retrieved August 6, 2020.
  8. ^ "61st Emmy Awards Nominees and Winners - Outstanding Made For Television Movie". Archived from the original on July 20, 2019. Retrieved November 25, 2019.
  9. ^ "61st Emmy Awards Nominees and Winners - Outstanding Lead Actress In A Miniseries Or A Movie". Archived from the original on July 20, 2019. Retrieved November 25, 2019.
  10. ^ "2009 | Categories | International Press Academy". Archived from the original on December 23, 2018. Retrieved August 6, 2020.
  11. ^ "'Prayers for Bobby' : A Fantastic Movie for families of LGBTQ – PFLAG ATLANTA". Archived from the original on April 28, 2019. Retrieved May 12, 2020.
  12. ^ "GALECA :: The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics :: Home of the Dorian Awards". Archived from the original on May 11, 2020. Retrieved August 6, 2020.
  13. ^ "21st Annual GLAAD Media Awards – English Language Nominees". Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. 2010. Archived from the original on January 30, 2010. Retrieved February 21, 2010.
  14. ^ "Prayers For Bobby". Golden Globe Awards. Archived from the original on September 1, 2020. Retrieved May 12, 2020.
  15. ^ "Television Nominations for the 2010 PGA Awards Announced". Producers Guild of America. November 30, 2009. Archived from the original on April 10, 2012. Retrieved September 21, 2017.
  16. ^ "2010 PGA Award Nominees and Winners". Producers Guild of America. Archived from the original on August 22, 2017. Retrieved September 21, 2017.
  17. ^ "The 16th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards | Screen Actors Guild Awards". SAG Awards. Archived from the original on April 25, 2020. Retrieved May 12, 2020.
  18. ^ "GLAAD Media Award Winner 'Prayers for Bobby' to Re-Air on Lifetime this Saturday". GLAAD. September 14, 2011. Archived from the original on March 5, 2016. Retrieved May 12, 2020.

External links[edit]