Have you ever watched or read something that has such a profound effect on you that you are absolutely speechless as a result? Today I watched the movie Prayers For Bobby, which up until this morning I had never even heard of. Someone had posted a link to the full movie on Facebook and I, having no intention of watching the entire thing, decided to give it a few minutes of my time. An hour and a half later I admittedly found myself curled up in a ball, trying to grapple with the host of emotions that came pouring forth as a result of this movie; emotions that I was nowhere near prepared to handle due to an inadequate supply of tissues and the depth of the connection I felt to the story.
Having given myself some time to recover from the initial shock of the movie’s effect on me, I am now able to move past my previous loss of words and heightened emotional state to properly articulate how and why this movie moved me in a way that few things can. I think that the initial shock came from the overwhelming feeling that Bobby’s story could have easily been mine or even yours. I didn’t have the religious upbringing or the devout mother, but in so many other ways Bobby’s life parallels mine: the large close knit family, the battle between what we are told and what we innately feel, and the intense emotional damage brought on by the words and actions of others who do not fully understand homosexuality.
Bobby was told repeatedly that he was sick and made to believe that there was something wrong with him; that he was damaged and could only be fixed if he were to forsake who he truly is at the heart of his being. It didn’t matter that he was a beautiful human being with an inner light that few could match; what mattered to his mother and the people around him was the fact that his lifestyle didn’t match up with the beliefs of the masses. They didn’t see him for the person he was, but rather for the disease that they believed he had.
The world can be an incredibly cruel place and to not have a support system, but rather a squad of executioners simply waiting to condemn someone for his differences, is disheartening and unquestionably damaging. Bobby took his life because he had reached a point where it all became too much: the blows to his self-esteem, the lack of familial support, and the constant reminders that he was different. What saddens me more than anything else is how easily I could have followed Bobby’s example; how easily I could have done what I had thought about so many times before; how easily I could have given up when the snide remarks and overt judgments were too much.
So many young people take their lives each and every day because we make them feel like there is something wrong with them. They choose death over life because death seems more appealing than a life of ridicule and hatred over something that is far beyond anyone’s control. Being gay isn’t a choice, but bigotry is…and to choose to hate someone like Bobby or even me for being who we were born to be is to push someone closer toward something that he or she can never return from. Suicide is preventable. Being gay isn’t a choice, but what you choose to do in support or against it is. Be the person who helps save a life, not the one who helps end one.
And next time you want to use the word “gay” in a hateful way or condemn someone for being the person he or she was born to be…
Imagine the world without me in it.
Imagine the part that you may have played.
Imagine what you could have done differently.
Until next time…stay classy.
– C.M. Berry