Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Prayers for Bobby

Prayers for Bobby is a Lifetime movie that was on this past weekend.

From the website:

Academy Award nominee and Golden Globe winner Sigourney Weaver stars in this emotional true story about a 1970s religious suburban housewife and mother who struggles to accept her young son Bobby being gay. What happens to Bobby is tragic and causes Mary to question her faith; ultimately this mom changes her views in ways that she never could have imagined.

This is the story of Mary Griffith, who is an activist with the group PFLAG and is a strong proponent of getting programs into high schools to counsel gay, lesbian, bi, and transgendered youth (GLBT).

I watched the movie Saturday night when it first aired.

I was moved, I cried, I really felt for this mom, for this son.

2 moments stayed with me.

Mary tells Bobby, after his tireless efforts at changing who he is and her tireless efforts to pound out the gay and submerge him only in the God she believes in, "I won't have a gay son." His tragic choices certainly bring that sentence to truth.

And after many meetings with pastors and much soul searching and finally attending PFLAG meetings, Mary has an epiphany. A horrible epiphany. She runs, in the pouring rain (very poetic and dramatic) to the MCC (Metropolitan Community Church- a church founded in the GLBT community), to the pastor from whom she has gained much support and a lot of eye opening. And she says to him that at the PFLAG meeting, she kept hearing these other parents say that they knew their child was different from early on... and she realized that her Bobby was different, too, and that she had known it, felt it from the time he was conceived. She had known he was different, that he was born different, that God had made him different and she couldn't accept it or embrace it. And she realized her role in her son's tragic choice.

Very powerful.

I've read some reactions to the movie and many seem to be of the opinion that it's a good thing the story happened back in the 70's because people's opinions sure have changed since then.

Yeah. That's like saying that since Barack Obama is President, our country has lost all racism.

There are many, many, many families who would still be devastated if a child came out as being gay. Many families who would desert a child who "chose" to live a gay lifestyle.

I am beyond proud to say that I am not one of those families.

I am a Christian woman. I have a very strong relationship with God. I've had experiences in my life that have very firmly cemented and proven His existence and love. And I am also fiercely liberal, open minded, accepting... my heart bleeds all over the place.

And it is my faith, my spirituality, my certainty in my beliefs that tells me, without a doubt, that being gay is not wrong and is not a sin.

I'm not going to start dissecting Bible verses or history. That's been done. There are people whose minds cannot be changed or swayed. I'm one of them. So arguing the point is pointless. Which is the nice thing about a blog. I can just put my opinions and thoughts out there and you can agree or disagree- or maybe open your heart and mind to a new way of seeing things.

Mary Griffith is a hero to me, especially after seeing her story. She easily could have hardened her heart and placed all of the blame on her son. She could have listened to the pastors of her own church at her son's funeral, as they condemned him to having been too weak to fight off the demons that made him choose being gay over being a child of God.

But she opened her heart and her mind and found a different way of looking at things.

If one of my children were to come to me and say "Mom, I think I'm gay" or "Mom, I'm really confused. I think I'm attracted to women (or men)," I would weep. But not from sorrow. Pride. Joy, even. Because it would mean that I had raised a child who felt she could come to me with a subject that could be taboo in another home. Because it would mean I had raised a child who at least hoped that mom and dad would still love and accept him.

I wish I could say that I would then jump up and do all sorts of things to show my support. But honestly, I'd do what I do now. Follow their lead. Questions? I'll help you find answers. Concerns? I'll help you find someone to talk to if I can't calm those concerns myself.

But beyond that... it wouldn't change how I see my child. It wouldn't change how I feel about my child. It wouldn't change anything.

Because being gay doesn't mean being something not human, not loved, not accepted, not real. It isn't a disease or disorder. It isn't something that requires medical intervention or psychiatric diagnosis.

Should my child come to me and say "Mom, I'm gay," it would be the same to me if my child came to me and said "Mom, I'm straight."

"I have a crush on a girl..." same as "I have a crush on a boy."

God created us as we are. We are perfect in His plan, in His design.

Pastor Rusty's sermon this past Sunday was titled "Abundant Living: Expectant Living!" He talked about 3 ways in which faith is built and then had us evaluate where we currently are with that aspect of our faith.

1. My faith is built through difficulties. The idea is that we turn to God first when we are facing a problem- and we even thank Him for giving us this problem, thank Him for walking us through it, being by our sides. I rated myself a 6 out of 10. I often problem solve first, emote first, turn to God second or third.

2. My faith is built through demands. God calls us to act. How often do we listen and respond immediately? When we hear that little voice urging us to help or to speak or to reach out, do we listen or do we talk ourselves out of it? I gave myself an 8 out of 10.

3. My faith is built through delays. God's plan for us happens on His time, not ours. We may have plans and hopes and expectations, but we don't design when things will happen. We must be patient and willing to wait for the answers to come when the time is right. This one is pretty easy for me and I actually gave myself a 10.

So why do I share that in the midst of all this gay talk?

Because of number 2. I rated myself pretty high on that scale. I really do a lot of listening to that inner voice- some may call it a conscience, some may call it God. And I often choose to act on that little voice, too. I'm someone who gets involved when maybe I shouldn't. But if I see someone crying, I will offer a hug or an ear. If I see someone struggling, I will see if I can help. If there is something weighing on my heart, I will share it.

So this movie impacted me. And I felt called to share it. To share a Christian perspective that maybe you hadn't considered before.

If you have an opportunity to see this movie on Lifetime, please do. Watch it and place yourself in Mary's shoes, in Bobby's shoes.

And if you really want something long to read but that really delves into Biblical interpretation and so on... A Letter to Louise


morninglight mama said...

Very well said, Liz. While I may not share your religious perspectives, I can fully relate to your perspective as a parent. You know that this particular topic has been part of a conversation with our older son lately, and I hope that we can pass along to him a belief that sexuality has nothing to do with the value of a person.

Nice job!

Garret said...

I put myself in Mary's shoes and I rather like them so she ain't gettin' them back.

On a serious note, great post. Most have decribed being gay as what happens in the bedroom. Being gay is not about color, looks, or anything more. Just who we choose to bed with. Outside of the bedroom, stereotypically the mannerisms, lisps and hairdresser jobs are the give aways. Trust me, there are plenty of those.

I'm glad to see someone so involved in church and yet so open minded! Thanks for spreading your open-mindedness.

The Courteous Chihuahua said...

Hey, Liz:

I saw a commercial for this movie the other day, but forgot to record it. I will have to see when it's on again. I have a friend who is very active in the MCC here in Indy. Attending a service on there is on my list of 101 Things to do in 1001 Days.

My younger daughter has asked me before, "What would you do if I was gay?" I told her I would be sad because I know it wouldn't be an easy road, but that I would still love her and do my best by her.

Eternal Lizdom said...

In all seriousness- if Teagan came to me and asked what I would say if she told me she was gay, my answer would probably be that I'd start contacting my gay friends and see if anyone had a daughter they could set her up with. Ha!


Thanks, Garret! I find I'm a rare breed, sadly. But I'm working on spreading the love!

ML Mama... you know that we share that similar base... so it's all good! See, even people coming from different perspectives can find commonalities!

Eternal Lizdom said...

Oh yeah- Chihuahua: I've attended services a couple of times at MCC. It's been years (bit of a drive for me) but it was a very positive experience. The service was so full of love and joy! My church is similar to that feeling- which is why I chose it as my church home. But I've rarely seen a church with such a connected, loving, and supportive community as when I would go to MCC.

Maybe we should both go and then blog about our experience?

The Courteous Chihuahua said...

I'd be up for that!

Lisa said...

Wonderful post, Liz. I did not see the movie, and I don't share your religious views, so I cannot speak to those points. I think, though, that if one of my children came to me and told me they were gay, I would be sad just because I would be very aware of the discrimination - and perhaps even violence - they would face. But embrace them? Yes, of course.

Alison said...

Look, Liz, you're already on my good side, you didn't have to go to all this trouble. :)

Unknown said...

Well said.

My best friend is gay and never felt comfortable coming out to his parents. His mother died a few weeks ago and (aside from her death of course) what irked me was that he never felt comfortable sharing with his own mother who he is.

She was a wonderful woman, and beautiful person, but with deep abiding faith in God that precluded her (in her mind anyway) from accepting the "lifestyle."

A shame. A real shame, and you're right, bias against blacks, gays, women..these do not get whisked away over night. But, I can't help but hope that with each point of awareness a little bit of the veil of prejudice is lifted.

Anonymous said...

Nicely written Liz. I share a great many of your "religious" beliefs, and I'm gay. Go figure. Anyway, I recently finished reading a book called "The Shack" and found it to be THE most spiritually inspirational book I've EVER read. If you are a reader (or an audiobook fan) you might want to check it out. I think God would use it to your greater good.
Thanks again for the fresh breeze you allow to blow through your mind.

Alison said...

Liz, now that I'm feeling better, I wanted to add more...Miss Chef has never come out to her parents, even though we've lived together for over 8 years. Yes, it's because of religion. They will stay in denial, probably forever. I cannot explain how grateful I am that I came out to my own parents. I am so much happier being able to share my life with them. Miss Chef is an unusually strong person who is able to maintain a close, loving relationship with her parents, but there will always, always be a big hole in it.

Eternal Lizdom said...

Pearl, I've heard many good things about The Shack so I suppose I need to pick it up and read it already!

Flartus... you figured it out. I wrote this whole thing so that I can be your new BFF. :) In seriousness, it would break my heart if my child couldn't share such a huge part of her life with me. If it works for Miss Chef, that's good and it is great that she is still close with them.