The documentary Bridegroom tells the story of Shane Bitney Crone and what happened after his partner of six years, Tom Bridegroom, was killed in an accidental fall off of a building in their Los Angeles neighborhood.
Crone shared with Gay Star News in a recent interview how his life has taken unexpected turns since he made a YouTube video about how his grief was compounded by the heartless actions of Tom’s homophobic family.
The video, called It Could Happen to You, went viral and led to the documentary directed by Linda Bloodworth-Thomason who created the classic sitcom Designing Women. The $300,000 needed to make the film was quickly reached as it became the highest funded film in the history of Kickstarter.com.
Bridegroom had its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival last month where it was introduced by former President Bill Clinton and won the coveted Audience Award.
‘To go from the YouTube video to honor my partner and to educate people to a documentary is all kinds of surreal,’ Crone tells GSN. ‘The film is something that I’m very proud of and I think that Tom would be proud of it too.’
The film shines a light on how a lack of marital rights can compound the grief of a surviving spouse when the other one dies. Not only was Crone shunned by Bridegroom’s family and banned from the funeral, he was also treated with indifference by most of hospital staff.
Working on the documentary has been therapeutic.
‘Since I posted the YouTube video, for the past year I’ve been working on the documentary. It’s hard you know. It just depends on the day. This has definitely been like a healing process for me and it’s good that something so tragic led to something that’s positive.’
Sadly, the film has not let to any kind of relationship with Bridegroom’s family. During his life, the family had cast Bridegroom out, called him a sinner and blamed Crone for his homosexuality.
‘I haven’t heard from them,’ Crone says. ‘We reached out to them – I wanted them to be in the film and we just never heard from them.’
Crone has nothing but praise for Bloodworth-Thomason who had met the couple at another wedding while Bridegroom was still alive.
After seeing the YouTube video, she called Crone and proposed making the documentary.
‘The minute that I met her and we were talking about the film, we had the same vision,’ Crone says. ‘She’s just a brilliant storyteller and I don’t think there could have been a better person to tell our story. She convinced me that this was a story that needed to be told. I know that what happened to me has happened to hundreds of thousands of people before. She just felt that this was the time to tell it.’
The death of his partner and the aftermath has turned Crone into more of an LGBT activist than he ever thought he would be.
‘Tom and I had started a music PR company but since the YouTube video, my life has turned into activism and it’s so much more meaningful to me,’ he says. ‘I don’t know what will happen after (the film festival circuit) but I do know that I’m going to do whatever I can to support this movement until marriage is possible for everyone.’