Shane Bitney Crone, a young man whose six-year relationship was cut short by his partner’s accidental death, is teaming up Linda Bloodworth-Thomason and Linda Burstyn to make a documentary about the discrimination he faced following the tragedy. The film, BRIDEGROOM: An American Love Story will be funded by donations and will cost a minimum of $300,000. Around $12,000 must be raised by July 19 for the film to be funded.
On the one-year anniversary of his partner Tom’s death, Shane posted a video to YouTube called “It Could Happen to You,” in May. The video takes its viewer on a brief journey through Shane and Tom’s relationship, their commitment to marry if it were to become legal in their state (California), their attacks and rejection from Tom’s family, Tom’s tragic death, and refusal from both the government and Tom’s family to recognize their relationship.
Though Tom no longer had a relationship with his family in Indiana, within hours of his death, his mother asked Shane to pay for Tom’s body to be transported to Indiana, as well as for the funeral, which would take place there in Tom’s home state. Shane agreed, but was informed during a layover on his way to Tom
’s funeral that if he were to show up, Tom’s father and uncle were prepared to physically attack Shane (much like how Tom was attacked by his father when he came out five years prior).
Shane has since been denied legal rights that are offered to married couples, including access to Tom’s hospital records. The legal system does not recognize Shane and Tom as anything more than former roommates.
“I need to fight for what’s right…I can’t stand back anymore,” Shane says through tears in a video explaining his motivation to make a documentary. “Maybe that’s why all this happened…to open my eyes and to inspire me to want to make a change and fight for equality.”
“I just don’t know if people will listen. No one will listen if I don’t talk.” A moment passes and he adds, “I’m talking.”
To help ensure that Shane will be heard, Emmy winning writer Linda Burstyn (Nightline, NCIS) and noted director and producer Linda Bloodworth-Thomason (Designing Women) have teamed up to make BRIDEGROOM.
Bloodworth-Thomason is a long-time advocate for the LGBT community, having written the first television script to expose the prejudice to which gay people and victims of AIDS (such as her mother) were subjected, for an Emmy-nominated episode of Designing Women called “Killing All the Right People,” which aired in 1987. After hearing about Tom’s death, she called Shane, whom she met previously at a wedding, and suggested they make a movie to share the couple’s story.
On BRIDEGROOM’s KickStarter page, she says, “Tom and Shane were each other’s first and only loves. They are devoted, hardworking, unassuming and funny. They are, in fact, the sort of young people who hold within themselves the promise of America. And that is why I want to bring to life, on film, this real life Romeo and Romeo—so that all who condemn them, might come face to face with exactly what it is they are opposing.”
At present, close to $288,000 has been raised. A deadline--July 19--has been set, as they hope to release the film within a few months.
Shane explains, “Because the issue of gay rights has moved to the forefront of debate in our country, our goal is to have this film be out by fall. It’s ambitious but there’s a lot at stake and we know we can do it.”
Advocate and actor George Takei has taken to Facebook to bring attention and a bump in donations to Shane’s movie mission. Still, if the fundraising gap does not close before the deadline, “we will lose all money raised, along with the opportunity to make this film, as well as play a meaningful role in the burgeoning debate over marriage equality,” says Shane.
Bloodworth-Thomason explains the importance of BRIDEGROOM: “I can think of no more powerful opportunity to change hearts and minds on this very important issue of human rights, than to tell the story of Shane and Tom, which at its core, is the struggle of all people who yearn to be who they are and love who they love.”