Tomorrow is Memorial Day in the U.S. Historically, it is a day of remembrance directed primarily at the military and military veterans. It was originally called Decoration Day – a day when graves of deceased veterans received decoration. As a retired veteran myself, I appreciate the day for all that it has been in the past and all that it is now becoming.
In recent years, the focus of the day has remained on deceased veterans, but families have quietly also began to mark the day with honor and remembrance their lost family members. Small communities of like minded individuals have also come to recognize lost leaders and friends on this day. That brings me to the reason for this post.
Our LGBT community has been through the fire. The scourage of AIDS took an incredible toll. While still fighting that battle, we’re now faced with a new challenge. Our youth are struggling with intolerance and bullying. The teen suicide rate in the gay community is far higher than the suicide rate among straight teens.
Mary Griffith is a mother who took action after the loss of her son Bobby. She found solace with PFLAG and later became a one woman crusade fighting for the lives of our gay and lesbian youth. Her story, and Bobby’s story have been the subject of a made for cable TV movie and a book by Leroy Aarons: Prayers for Bobby: A Mother’s Coming to Terms with the Suicide of Her Gay Son.
Mr. Aarons book was written in 1996. It has recently gained international attention because of the release of the movie in 2010 and because of the “It Gets Better” teen suicide awareness campaign commercials airing on both network and cable television.
The book takes parallel paths by chronicling Bobby’s life via entries in his private journals and the memories of the family, particularly his mother and by following Mary’s journey from her far right wing Christian belief that being gay is a sin and all gays are condemned to hell, to her transformation into a strong voice for gay youth.
I’ll admit that I saw the movie before I read the book. While the movie moved me to tears, the book was stunning. I’m extremely glad I read it. It gave me great insight into what Bobby went through, and it really shows the true courage of his mother. It’s a powerful story that bears rereading and repeating.
On this Memorial Day, lets remember ALL of those who’ve departed this earth for a cause and all of those who ignited one. Let’s continue to remember our vets, but let’s also remember Bobby.