Life is too short, especially for teenagers and young adults that think life is not worth living.
It’s especially vile when those kids kill themselves because of people’s distorted view that God is a hater.
When he was 16-years-old, Bobby Griffith was so tormented that he confided to his brother and best friend, Ed, that he was gay. When the pressure of that secret became too much to keep, Ed told his mother, Mary, that his little brother was gay.
Being a devout Christian, who feared God, Mary felt that Bobby would lead a miserable life and that God would condemn her son to hell and she would not see him in the afterlife. Her repeated efforts for Bobby to “pray away” the gay, her constant spouting of Bible verses, and talks about damnation were too much.
On a summer night in 1983, at the age of 20, Bobby jumped off an overpass in Portland, Oregon, and was struck and killed by a semi-trailer.
Sadly, there are too many Bobbys in this world who are told or that believe that their life is not worth living if they’re gay.
Society is slowly moving forward and letting the Bobbys know that their life has meaning. We have a long way to go, but we’re making progress.
I just finished reading “Prayers for Bobby: A Mother’s Coming to Terms with the Suicide of Her Gay Son” by journalist Leroy F. Aarons, who worked closely with Mary Griffith and her family to form the story of Bobby’s life and his being gay.
He also used Bobby’s diary entries and there’s no denying that Bobby’s self-worth was low because he thought God hated him.
In the months following Bobby’s death, Mary looked hard for answers as to whether her son was in heaven or hell. Her church, the Walnut Creek Presbyterian Church, in Walnut Creek, California, made her think it was hell and that she’d never see her son again.
However, after meeting with Reverend Larry Whitsell at the Metropolitan Community Church in Concord, California, Mary started thinking differently about Bobby, his homosexuality, heaven and hell.
Years after Bobby’s suicide, Mary became a leading activist to show schools, churches, and society that every gay person should be given the chance to lead a happy, fulfilling life.
Mary wanted others, especially parents, to learn from her mistake — her fatal mistake of allowing her son to feel unloved and unworthy of her love and God’s love.
In 2009, the book became an Emmy and Golden Globes-nominated movie on Lifetime. “Prayers For Bobby” starred Sigourney Weaver and Ryan Kelley.
It was my second favorite movie of 2010, the year I saw it.
If you suspect that your child is gay or that a loved one is gay and you don’t know how to deal with it, check out P-FLAG National, the group formerly known as Parents, Friends and Family of Lesbians and Gays, just like Mary did.
It changed her life and in return, her determination has saved countless other gay kids from becoming another Bobby, a victim of suicide.
Here’s the link to PFLAG:
Show love and compassion and don’t let your son, daughter, or loved one become the next Bobby! And, don’t find this acceptance when it’s too late like Mary Griffith.
In memory of Bobby Griffith, here is one of his favorite songs (“Shake It Up” from 1982) from his favorite band, The Cars, in the year leading up to his death.