This past weekend I watched the Lifetime Premier of “Prayers for Bobby,” a movie about a young man who tries to come to terms with being gay in a religious family. The movie is based on a true story. It portrays well the religious messages that the boy receives in his church and, from that, in his family. The messages that he absorbs are these: I am an abomination. I am evil. I am sick. I am not worthy in the eyes of God. I will NOT get to heaven. I will be hated by my family. This is a young teenage boy, kind, sweet, bright, loving; a young teenage boy, no one knowing he’s gay, trying to change, but not able, who is made to grapple, silently and all alone with questions as to whether he even deserves to exist. Can you imagine such a hell? Can you imagine the pressure that this places on such innocence? And to think that his suffering is caused by well meaning, upright religious folk – convinced they are speaking in the name of God!
I will not say what ultimately happens in the movie, but suffice it to say that the Mom’s eyes are opened and she makes it her life’s work to speak out against the violence inherent in religions toward gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. I highly recommend a viewing of this movie.
Can you imagine the hell this boy went through? Yes. Any of us who are gay were once this boy! Any of us who are gay and who grew up with any semblance of religious practice remember being children, knowing that we were different, suffering in silence and fearing rejection by God, society, friends, not to mention our very own family. We were all once this boy. I have often said that it’s a miracle that any of us who are gay make it to adulthood with any semblance of sanity given what we had to psychologically endure. Most of us are well adjusted, good, responsible people. To me, that is a testament of the resilience of the human spirit and the power of God alive at work, holding us close and whispering words of love to our hearts in the midst of the noise of condemnation.
I am again reminded of the very real violence done to young GLBT people through absorbing such religious messages. And I am grateful for those faith filled voices that extend a welcome hand to GLBT people. Voices like Epistle.us, MCC Church, New Ways Ministry, the strong open stance of the United Church of Christ, the Ecumenical Catholic Communion, GayChristian.net, Soul Force, Bishop Gene Robinson and many others.
Despite these voices out there, still hundreds of young GLBT people commit suicide each year, largely due to the pressure inherent in family and their community of faith. It is important that each of us do something to get the word of God’s love and delight out there! I think of the mantra of The Equal Rights Campaign and what Harvey Milk used to say: Come out, come out, wherever you are! In doing so a face is put to the words “gay,” “homosexual,” “queer,” “faggot.” It’s no long “those people,” . . . but my uncle, or cousin, or sister, or co-worker, or friend. One person at a time, not only do attitudes change, but lives are literally saved!
What’s one thing you can do today that speaks a word of hope and love to those who are suffering and alone?