Redbox began offering the accclaimed gay-themed documentary Bridegroom in its DVD rental kiosks earlier this month.
Now the company is facing backlash from anti-gay forces who are urging people to boycott the popular kiosks.
Shane Bitney Crone, the subject of the movie and one of its producers, says angry consumers have sent numerous emails and letters conveying disappointment in the company for carrying the film.
‘Even some radio hosts and church groups have encouraged others to boycott the popular Redbox video rental kiosks completely, simply because they are against a love story about two men,’ Crone wrote in a Facebook post on Sunday (29 December).
The film tells the story of Crone’s relationship with his late partner, Tom Bridegroom who was killed in an accidental fall from a rooftop. Crone’s grief was compounded when Bridegroom’s family banned him from the funeral and tried to erase all evidence of their happy life together.
Redbox President Anne Saunders believes the movie tells an important story and contains a powerful message and had pledged to get the movie into all of Redbox’s 44,000 kiosks by 17 December.
Redbox has also taken the unprecedented step of contributing 5% of the film’s proceeds to GLAAD, GLSEN, PFLAG, and Freedom the Marry.
Crone is thankful for the company’s support.
‘Through Redbox’s generosity, people all over the country, even in remote rural areas, are watching Bridegroom,’ he writes. ‘Teenagers and adults alike have written to me, and to Redbox, saying that they’re grateful to have been able to see the film, even in their small towns–towns not unlike the one in which I grew up.’
Donating part of the rental fees to LGBTI organization is fueling some of the backlash.
‘Apparently this charitable act also has people up in arms, because they feel as if Bridegroom attempts to force people to change their views and beliefs while spreading a sinful, intolerable message,’ Crone writes.
‘While I believe these individuals are entitled to their opinions and beliefs, I find this whole ordeal absurd and disheartening.’
Crone points out that no one is being forced to rent or watch the documentary.
‘The only thing we’ve ever asked is for people to give it a chance,’ he writes. ‘Bridegroom was not made to create social discord or public controversy. It was a film made out of love and hope.’
Crone shares that he has received dozens of messages since Bridegroom was made available at Redbox, including from one 18 year old in Indiana who said that he was close to giving up before watching the documentary.
‘He said it literally saved his life,’ he writes.
Crone urges people to support Redbox’s decision to carry the film by visiting a kiosk and renting Bridegroom or one of the other 200 titles available.
‘Our stories deserve to be told without unwarranted repercussions and we cannot let narrow-mindedness or ignorance silence us,’ he writes. No person, or company, should be ostracized for supporting equality and love. … These people who are attempting to stop the distribution of Bridegroom are doing much more harm than they know. By silencing our voices, they potentially stop others from finding hope. We all deserve hope.’