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Gay couple's tragedy to go from YouTube to movie screen

Film makers are close to raising enough money through crowd funding to turn the tragedy of Shane and Tom from YouTube hit into feature documentary film

Gay couple's tragedy to go from YouTube to movie screen

The tragic story of a young man who was frozen out after his lover died is set to make the leap from YouTube to the big screen thanks to crowd funding.

Shane Bitney Crone was naturally devastated when his partner of six years Tom Bridegroom tripped and fell off a roof on a trip to Paris.

But what happened next – when Bridegroom’s family refused to recognize his rights as Tom’s lover – made the pain even harder to bear.

That story became a YouTube sensation reaching 2.4 million people. Now it is just $20,000 (€16,000) from reaching its $300,000 (€244,000) crowd funding target to be made into a full-length feature film.

During his life, Tom’s family had cast him out and called him a sinner, they blamed Crone for their son’s sexuality.

But after his death, their hatred made Crone’s life even harder to bear. Crone agreed to pay for repatriating his lover’s body and for his funeral. And he let Tom’s mother take away whatever of her son’s possessions she wanted. But it wasn’t enough to get any compassion from his devoted partner’s family.

He says he was warned not to come to the funeral as Tom’s uncle and father were threatening to attack him. He did stay away but that made the death even harder to bear. He was also refused access to information at the hospital. To the law, their relationship didn’t exist and the Bridegroom family were able to exploit that to wipe him out of Tom’s life.

But Crone couldn’t accept that and made a YouTube video explaining his story and campaigning for marriage – as he says, if they had been able to wed in their home state of California things might have been very different.

The film’s director is Linda Bloodworth-Thomason, creator of sitcom Designing Women. She had met the couple at another wedding while Tom was still alive.

‘I saw Shane’s YouTube posting, along with his bone crushing grief and the story of what happened to him after Tom’s death – and all because they were never allowed to marry,’ she wrote on fundraiser website, Kickstarter.

‘I called Shane and told him I wanted to make a documentary that would tell his and Tom’s love story from beginning to end,’ Bloodworth-Thomason added.

‘Like a lot of young people, they routinely documented their lives – but this recorded history is so prolific, it almost seems as though they had a premonition or unconscious fear of not getting to live out something important.’

For the filmmakers the coincidence of Tom’s surname being Bridegroom has enhanced the idea that his story stands for something bigger.

The film crew aim to give Bridegroom a theatrical release by the fall. They have already raised $281,170. Thousands of people have donated $5 to $25 but six generous people have gone far further and given $10,000.

However only nine days are left for people to donate – if they don’t complete the crowd funding and raise all the money by 19 July, they will lose everything that has been pledged so far. The money raised will pay for making the film, marketing, distribution and the film’s soundtrack.

If you want to donate, simply visit Bridegroom’s page on Kickstart website. To follow the film’s production progress check out its Facebook page or official website. Shane Bitney Crone can be found on Twitter.

Here is Crone’s video tribute which inspired the film:

And here is the film’s trailer:

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