Guest post by Erin Cassidy.
Bridegroom tells the story of Shane Bitney Crone and Thomas Bridegroom, two young men from small-town America who come out as gay and fall in love. Six years later, Thomas tragically dies in an accident, with heart-wrenching consequences for his partner. The 80-minute documentary illustrates Tom and Shane's love story deftly, as well as puts a voice out there for same-sex marriages and equality in America. Anchored by an interview with Shane, the doc recounts the story of his childhood, coming out as gay, his six-year relationship with Tom, how Tom fell off a rooftop during a photoshoot to his death, and the tragic aftermath. Over interviews with Shane, his family and friends, we learn of Tom’s parents' hostility toward their son’s homosexuality. We learn that Shane was blocked from seeing Tom as he lay dying in the hospital because he wasn’t considered “family.” We also learn that Tom’s parents did not allow Shane to attend his funeral. (The Bridegroom family threatened Tom’s life if he did show up.) When a friend speaks about her last moments with Tom on that rooftop, it’s heartbreaking. When Shane recalls the moment he learns of the accident, your heart breaks again. Funded by the Kickstarter platform, Bridegroom broke records for fundraising, receiving 6,508 individual donors and raising a total of $384,375, more than originally expected. The documentary aired at multiple film festivals and won two audience awards—one at the Toronto Inside Out Lesbian and Gay Film and Video Festival (2013) as well as a Jury Award at the Tampa International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival (2013). Bridegroom has garnered much praise since its release and continues to gain momentum. It aired on the OWN network last fall, is now offered on Netflix. Bringing awareness to the state of gay rights in America, this doc shows us exactly how much more needs to be fixed south of the border. My initial reaction when I watched this doc—after wiping away my tears, of course—was, “Thank goodness I live in Canada.” Here, same-sex laws are much different. In Canada, if my same-sex partner was in the hospital, I wouldn’t be shut out from visiting him. In a serious health matter, I would be able to act on behalf of my partner and vice versa. I know for myself, with my heart condition, I may have to have another round of surgeries when I’m older. I want my boyfriend to be able to visit and make medical decisions if a serious health situation arose. And I know my family, and my boyfriend’s family, wouldn’t bar him from seeing me. I have been following Shane’s story ever since I came across the YouTube video he uploaded in 2012, “ It Could Happen to You”. Passing along the video to friends and reading every article about Shane and Tom, I have become entranced by the love they shared and the life they had together. I’m thankful that Canada recognized same-sex marriage in 2003 and that Canada’s Civil Marriage Act was passed in 2005. Right now in America, only 17 out of 50 states allow same-sex marriage. Whether you are straight, gay, bisexual, lesbian or transgendered, Bridegroom will resonate. At the core, it’s a poignant, tragic love story, the story of a wonderful couple who happen to be gay.
Image stills captured from the official Bridegroom trailer, posted to YouTube.