Wednesday, January 21, 2009
A Once in a Lifetime Experience: A Guest Post by Scott Bailey
Actor Scott Bailey (pictured), who will join PFLAG in Washington on Saturday to celebrate the premiere of 'Prayers for Bobby,' penned this guest blog post about the story, his experience making the film, and the importance of 'Prayers.'
Yes, “PRAYERS FOR BOBBY” will air on LIFETIME starting Jan 24th but the title is more than just clever wordplay: it is my heartfelt truth! It feels like a miracle that such a timely and meaningful film has come to fruition and I am beyond honored to have been a part of it.
FROM REAL LIFE STORY TO BOOK TO FILM:
Prayers for Bobby is based upon the true story and critically acclaimed book by Leroy Aarons about a young gay man, Bobby (played by a heartbreaking Ryan Kelley), who because of his religious beliefs and family pressure, sets out to cure himself of being gay. The attempted cure tragically ends with his suicide which instigates questioning by his mother, Mary Griffith (played powerfully by Sigourney Weaver), of her blind-faith regarding homosexuality. She eventually becomes a gay rights activist and attempts to break this cycle of needless tragedy by telling her story. Mr. Aarons read bout Mary’s heartbreak in an article in his local paper, contacted her and she shared with him Bobby’s journals which chronicled his struggle. From that moment on, Mr. Aarons knew he had to write this story.
Twelve years ago, a young gay man who had recently ‘come out’ to his own family came across this book at a bookstore in West Hollywood. This man was so moved by the story that he enlisted his producing partner in the journey to make it a movie for all to see. For eleven years they doggedly pursued the development of the movie at multiple studios and networks all the while handing out copies of the book to anyone interested. I received a copy after having luckily run into these men in the frozen yogurt aisle in Ralph's grocery store. I wept like a baby while reading it and have since become a friends with and a huge fan of CHRIS TAAFFE and DANIEL SLADEK, the passionate executive producers of this film, great guys, and two of the most remarkable human beings I have ever met!!
Last April , the movie was green lit at Lifetime and Sigourney Weaver was set to star as Mary Griffith. I was lucky enough to audition for and eventually get to play the role of David, Bobby’s loving boyfriend who represents hope in the embodiment of a young gay man with supportive parents who is at peace with homosexuality. In June, I flew out to Detroit for 3 weeks to play the most meaningful role in my career, act with amazing actors such as Sigourney and Ryan, play my first gay character and for the first time in my life: kiss another guy!
AN IMPORTANT FILM!
I will never forget the energy and emotion on the set while filming Prayers for Bobby. The poignancy and importance of this story fueled a reverence and passion amongst producers, actors and crew alike which resulted in the most visceral movie-making I have ever experienced! Many people involved had experienced similar hardships ‘coming out’ and all were united in wanting to open hearts and minds toward an understanding of homosexuality.
It was admittedly a learning experience even for me, an actor, living in Hollywood, with many close gay friends. I learned that the suicide rate is 4 TIMES higher amongst gay teens than straight teens. I also learned that homosexuality is definitely not a “choice” or “preference” or even something that can be taught yet it is widely feared and viewed askance! Hopefully, films like this can reveal the ongoing discrimination for what it is, show examples of how life can be, and by doing so provide a beacon of hope to homosexuals and their families.
A PRESCIENT FILM!
This past November we elected the first African American President of the United States of America. In that same election, California passed Proposition 8 which basically repeals the right of homosexual marriage. In the 60’s the interracial parents of our new President Barack Obama were not legally allowed to marry, segregation was rampant, and the 14th amendment of the U.S constitution, in particular the guarantee to equal protection under the law, was denied to African American citizens. This same14th amendment is being denied to our homosexual citizens today and I feel it is an extremely prescient time to stand up and express my disapproval. I am reminded that “All it takes for evil to flourish is for enough good me to do nothing”! As an actor, I am doing what I can by portraying characters like David and promoting films such as “Prayers for Bobby” which have the power to educate, enlighten and save lives.
WHO AM I?
I am Scott Bailey, proud American, actor, writer, artist, engineer and the kind of guy who strives to stand up for what is right and to be a part of the solution instead of part of the problem. I try to live by the principle my grandfather, Bill J. Bailey, instilled in me: “Always leave a place better off than when you arrived.” I am a descendent of John Alden who came over on the Mayflower and I can only imagine the kind of courage it took to risk life and family in the pursuit of the freedom we now enjoy. I am also a huge admirer of our founding fathers who risked their own power, wealth, and lives to stand up against a tyrannical government.
Growing up I had few examples of homosexuality: Liberace, Robin Williams in “The Birdcage”, Seinfeld's oft repeated stance “not that there is anything wrong with that..”, and the occasional “that's gay!” comment. I don’t even remember knowing any gay people until I moved to Los Angeles. I do, however, remember the first time I heard the comment “that's so gay!” when I was with a gay friend. I remember it because I felt a sense of injustice and later embarrassment for not saying anything. Thereafter I decided that I would never “not say anything” again!! Today, I know enough gay people to know that there is no difference, they are as “normal” as anyone else and simply have a different sexuality.
I AM PROUD TO BE A PART OF THIS FILM AND I HOPE YOU ENJOY IT.
“I am Scott Bailey and I am here to recruit you!! “You may recognize that line from Harvey Milk, the first openly gay publicly elected official in the U.S. who recruited people to stand up for their own rights. He then proceeded to lead by example. I’d like to recruit you to watch this film and similarly stand up for what you think is right.
As a straight white guy I think it is right and important for me to stand up for the minority, don’t you? I hope I’d have stood up to give my seat to Rosa Parks, don’t you? I hope if I’d been a founding father I would have risked my life to create a better future, don’t you? I hope if I’d been around during WWII that I would’ve volunteered to fight for freedom, don’t you? In this day and age I am proud to see an African American President, not merely because he is black but because he was the best man for the job, aren’t you? I am also very disappointed that anyone in this great country is discriminated against, aren’t you? I therefore think it is a moral imperative that movies like Prayers for Bobby are made and seen! DON’T YOU?!
- Scott Bailey