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Sigourney Weaver on ‘Prayers for Bobby’: ‘The most important thing I’ve ever done’

July 15, 2020
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An encore presentation of the 2010 GLAAD Media Award winning television docudrama “Prayers for Bobby” recently aired on the Lifetime network, where it made its world premiere in January 2009.

Based on the book by Leroy F Aarons, “Prayers for Bobby” tells the true story of Bobby Griffith, a gay teenager who committed suicide in 1983 when his devoutly religious mother, Mary, refused to accept his homosexuality.

“Prayers for Bobby” stars Academy Award winning actress Sigourney Weaver as Mary Griffith and Ryan Kelley as Bobby Griffith. It is available now on iTunes and Apple TV.

During the following interview, which aired last weekend on the stations of BIG 104 FM (104.3/104.7/107.7 FM), Sigourney Weaver called “Prayers for Bobby,” for which she won a Golden Globe and an Emmy nod, the most important film she’s ever done.

The Maine Edge: What was it like to spend time with Mary Griffith as you prepared to portray her in this film?

Weaver: She was an extraordinary person. I was lucky enough to spend a day with Mary Griffith. She had turned her back on Bobby, and I think in her grief after she lost him, she began to question her belief that being gay was an abomination to God. She went to PFLAG (the United States' first and largest organization uniting parents, families, and allies with people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer), which is a wonderful organization, and through them she began to see that what Bobby told her was true.

He didn’t say ‘I’m going to choose this as my lifestyle,’ he was saying ‘the essence of who I am is gay,’ and she began to understand that homosexuality was part of life, and it was part of why Bobby was so wonderful, and why she loved him so much. She spent the rest of her life, and so has her family, making sure other families don’t make this mistake.

The Maine Edge: You don’t need to do interviews, you’re Sigourney Weaver. It’s clear that this movie is very close to your heart.

Weaver: It is. As a mother, when I read this story, my heart broke for Mary and Bobby. As a parent, you want your children to sort of play it safe; you don’t want them to be in jeopardy. Mary was so worried about Bobby’s soul burning in a fiery hell, she couldn’t see him, couldn’t hear him.

One of the last things Mary said to me, as she was looking at some of Bobby’s baby pictures is ‘I realize in my heart that I knew Bobby was gay his whole life. I was so fearful for him, I couldn’t accept it, and then it was too late.’ I felt her courage and her honesty. I felt I could be a messenger to carry this story everywhere.

The Maine Edge: How impactful has “Prayers for Bobby” become?

Weaver: Wherever I go in the world, I meet people and I sign photos, and have selfies taken with them. Usually, there is a group of people off to the side who come up to me not to ask for autographs or selfies, they just want to put their arms around me and thank me for “Prayers for Bobby.” They were able to start this conversation with their families with this movie. That’s why to me, it’s the most important thing I’ve ever done.

I’m very impressed by this community. It’s important that we not give up on people like Mary because they are turning away from science or from love. She would not want us to give up on people who think the way she used to think. She would want us to fight for their hearts and their minds.

If you come out to unaccepting parents, you are eight times more likely to commit suicide. That initial sharing of that huge fact about yourself takes such courage, and they have so much at stake, this film has helped many families listen to their kids. I’m a parent and I need to continue to listen to my children because they are speaking from their hearts about who they are, and we need to open our minds and our hearts to all the things can be and how they can express themselves.

Last modified on Wednesday, 15 July 2020 11:17

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