Saturday, February 14, 2009

Book Review: Prayers for Bobby

Title Prayers for Bobby: A Mother's Coming to Terms with the Suicide of Her Gay Son
Leroy Aarons
Rating ****1/2
Tags lgbt, youth, suicide, christianity, non-fiction

This deeply-disturbing but enlightening book has now been made into a TV movie. It is the story of Bobby Griffith and his family, especially his mother. Bobby came out as gay to his family in 1979, when he was 16, Most of his family was highly religious, and his mother, worried that he would be eternally damned, kept telling him he could change if he believed enough. It didn't happen, and Bobby, age 20, committed suicide by dropping off an overpass into the path of an 18 wheeler.

Mary Griffith's grief was intense. Eventually she began questioning her faith, that told her her son was sinful. She finally came to understand that nothing was wrong with Bobby... but something was very wrong with a religion and a sodiety that causes cildren such self-hatred that they cannot survive. Mary had another difficult-to-handle bout of grief when she understood fully her part in Bobby's death. Her strength and courage won out, and she became an advocate for gay and lesbian youth.

It is a hard book to read... it makes real so much pain, and shows the extent of the problem for millions of gay and lesbian young people. Things have changed some, but there are still too many of these young people dealing with harassment and physical violence in schools, lack of acceptance by friends and family, and high levels of suicides and attempted suicides.

This is a must-read.

Publication HarperOne (1996), Edition: illustrated edition, Paperback, 288 pages
Publication date 1996
ISBN 0062511238 / 9780062511232

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