Prayers for Bobby
|Prayers for Bobby|
|Based on||Prayers for Bobby: A Mother's Coming to Terms with the Suicide of Her Gay Son
by Leroy F. Aarons
|Written by||Katie Ford (teleplay)|
|Directed by||Russell Mulcahy|
|Theme music composer||Christopher Ward|
|Country of origin||United States|
|Producer(s)||Daniel Sladek, Chris Taaffe, David Permut, Stanley M. Brooks, Damian Ganczewski|
|Editor(s)||Victor Du Bois|
|Running time||89 minutes|
|Original channel||Lifetime Television|
Prayers for Bobby is a 2009 television film that premiered on the Lifetime network on January 24, 2009. It is based on the book, Prayers for Bobby: A Mother's Coming to Terms with the Suicide of Her Gay Son, by Leroy F. Aarons, which is itself based on the true story of the life and legacy of Bobby Griffith, a young gay man who killed himself in 1983 due to his mother's and community's homophobia. The film stars Ryan Kelley as Bobby Griffith and Sigourney Weaver as his mother, Mary.
The film was nominated for two Primetime Emmy Awards (Outstanding Made for Television Movie; Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie - Sigourney Weaver). In the same category, Sigourney Weaver was also nominated for the 2010 Golden Globe Award, as well as the 2010 Screen Actors Guild Award. The film won the 2010 GLAAD Media Award, and the producers were nominated for the 2010 Producers Guild of America Award. The film won the Audience Favorite Award at the Seattle Lesbian & Gay Film Festival.
Prayers for Bobby is produced by Once Upon A Times Films, Ltd in association with Permut Presentations and Sladek Taaffe Productions. Executive Producers are Daniel Sladek, Chris Taaffe, David Permut and Stanley M. Brooks.
Mary Griffith (Sigourney Weaver) is a devout Christian who raises her children according to the evangelical teachings of her local Presbyterian church in the late 1970s and early 1980s in Walnut Creek, California. Her son Bobby (Ryan Kelley) confides to his older brother that he may be gay. Life changes for the entire family after Mary learns about his secret. Bobby's father and siblings slowly come to terms with his homosexuality, but Mary believes that God can cure him. She takes him to a psychiatrist and persuades Bobby to pray harder and seek solace in Church activities in hopes of changing him. Desperate for his mother's approval, Bobby 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 causes him to grow increasingly withdrawn and depressed.
Stricken with guilt, Bobby moves to Portland, hoping that some day, his mother will accept him. He gives up on his hopes of defeating homosexuality. He finds a boyfriend, David (Scott Bailey), at a gay bar. However, Mary makes it clear that she still does not want her son to continue as he is. Despite meeting David's parents, who assure them that things will improve, Bobby continues thinking of his mother's words, and also sees David with another man. Finally, Bobby's subsequent depression and self-loathing intensifies as he blames himself for not being the "perfect" son, and one night, he free falls off a freeway bridge into the path of an oncoming eighteen-wheeler truck, which kills him instantly. The family receives the news the following day and is devastated.
Faced with their tragedy, Mary begins to question herself and her Church's interpretation of the 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 realizes that she knew Bobby was different from conception and decides that his true value was in his heart.
She becomes an advocate for gay rights and eventually gives a speech in a Walnut Creek city council meeting in support of a local "gay day". She urges people to think before they say, voice, or support homophobia because "a child is listening". The measure is rejected, but she 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.
- Sigourney Weaver as Mary Griffith
- Henry Czerny as Robert Griffith
- Ryan Jonathan Kelley as Bobby Griffith
- Austin Nichols as Ed Griffith
- Dan Butler as the Rev. Whitsell
- Carly Schroeder as Joy Griffith
- Shannon Eagen as Nancy Griffith
- Scott Bailey as David
- Bryan Endress-Fox as Greg
- Rebecca Louise Miller as Jeanette
- Marshall McClean as Reverend Owens
- Mary Griffith as herself in the Pride Parade scene
The final scene of the film features Leona Lewis' "Here I Am". In addition to "I Need You to Listen," arranged by Marty Haugen, and "Bullseye," by Megan McCormick. The song used in the trailer is titled My Name is Lincoln, composed by Steve Jablonsky, originally part of the soundtrack of The Island.In the first gay bar scene, The Armory, the song Lo-Down is playing by Storm Lee. This song is uncredited.
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 with a combined total of 6.1 million viewers.
Brian Lowry from Variety (Magazine) 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."
On December 7, 2010, Prayers for Bobby came out on DVD on Amazon.com.
Charles Robbins, the executive director and chief executive officer of the Trevor Project, said in a statement, "Sigourney Weaver and Lifetime provide inspiration to young people and families who will see films such as Prayers for Bobby and understand the importance of celebrating diversity and life."
- Outstanding Made for Television Movie
- Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Movie (Sigourney Weaver)
On December 15, 2009, Weaver was nominated by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association for the Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television for her performance.
In 2010, Weaver was nominated for the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries.
Bobby's conservative Presbyterian denomination, which was a precursor to the more moderate mainline Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), would go from rejecting gay people to ordaining gay clergy in 2010 and blessing same-sex weddings in their sanctuaries in 2014.
- Littleton, Cynthia (18 May 2008). "Weaver answers 'Prayers': Actress to star in Lifetime movie". Variety. Retrieved 2009-05-14.
- "Prayers For Bobby". MyLifetime.com. Retrieved 2009-01-10.
- Gorman, Bill (26 January 2009). "Sigourney Weaver Starrer Prayers for Bobby Draws 3.8 Million Viewers". TV By The Numbers. Retrieved 2009-05-14.
- Alexander Ryll (2014). "Essential Gay Themed Films To Watch, Prayers for Bobby". Gay Essential. Retrieved 22 December 2014.
- "Sigourney Weaver and the Trevor Project to be Honored by the Trevor Project". PRNewswire. 19 November 2008. Retrieved 2009-01-10.
- "21st Annual GLAAD Media Awards - English Language Nominees". Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. 2010. Retrieved February 21, 2010.
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