Over one year ago, Shane Bitney Crone uploaded a ten-minute video (titled "It Could Happen To You") to YouTube about his partner's tragic death and his subsequent year of grieving, and disproved the conventional wisdom about the Internet's attention span by accruing over 4 million views. How did he do it? He shared his story.
If you haven't stumbled across the video before, Shane's emotional story recalls the loving, committed relationship he had formed with Tom, recounts Tom's tragic death, and illustrates how discriminatory laws and policies continually obstructed Shane's grieving. Now, former GLAAD Media Award recipient and Emmy Award nominee Linda Bloodworth Thomason has amplified Shane and Tom's story by turning it into a full-length documentary titled "Bridegroom." The project wasn't picked up merely by a stroke of good luck, though; it happened through the help of over 6,500 supporters of a Kickstarter campaign that raised $380,000 to produce the film, becoming the most-funded documentary in the history of crowdfunding.
The original YouTube video demonstrated the urgency of achieving marriage equality, by demonstrating how homophobia-- from within state policies to within our own families-- can invalidate love and forcibly separate LGBT people from our loved ones. Shane summarizes his experience in an open letter: "On May 7th, 2011, just a few months after Tom gave me a promise ring, he tragically fell from our best friend’s rooftop while taking photos. He didn’t survive. To worsen an already tragic accident, his mother (whom I thought had finally started to support our relationship), took his body back to Indiana without notifying me of any memorial plans. Tom’s family banned me from attending his funeral, and threatened physical harm should I come anywhere near them. I was never able to say a proper goodbye to the man I had loved for six years."
The full-length documentary elaborates upon the original video to fully detail Shane and Tom's relationship, and Shane's struggle against unfair treatment for being gay following Tom's death.
The film has already premiered and won awards at Tribeca Film Festival, Toronto Inside Out Festival, and Outfest Los Angeles. It reached an even wider audence when it aired on the OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network in October, and is now available for streaming on Netflix. Supporters of the project can order DVDsof the documentary, or download the film on iTunes or Amazon, beginning November 19. In addition to watching the film, you can help share Shane's story by liking the film on Facebook and following it on Twitter.