The story of the life and love shared by Thomas Lee Bridegroom and Shane Bitney Crone resonates with me to this day. I learned of their life together and the tragedy that befell them in viewing It could happen to you, the YouTube video produced by Shane Bitney Crone in memory of Thomas Lee Bridegroom, who died in a tragic accident on May 7, 2011. Though I do not know either of these men, I was so moved in a way that I normally am not upon hearing of a personal tragedy that strikes people who are strangers to me. Watching It could happen to you had a profound effect on me; I felt grief and outrage well up inside me upon learning of the injustice and iniquity that was heaped on Shane Bitney Crone following the death of his partner, Thomas Lee Bridegroom. As same sex couples could not marry in California at the time of Tom’s death, Shane had no legal standing as Tom’s partner and could do nothing as the Bridegroom family claimed Tom’s body, his assets and barred Shane from attending his funeral. This is so wrong and it happens to other couples. From the grief and outrage I experienced I was inspired to join in the effort to advocate for full civil rights for gay people, marriage rights in particular. Continue reading
Mika and I enjoy reading and viewing biographies in print and on film. The latest addition to our library collection is a copy on DVD of the documentary film Bridegroom A Love Story, Unequaled, produced by Linda Bloodworth-Thomason. The documentary was inspired by the video It could happen to you, published on YouTube by Shane Bitney Crone in 2012. The video is a moving account of the loving relationship between Thomas Lee Bridegroom and Shane Bitney Crone, the untimely death of Tom Bridegroom in a tragic accident and the unfortunate events that followed. The story of the tragedy that struck these two young men has resonated with people across the world since the publication of the YouTube video It could happen to you. The documentary film, Bridegroom A Love Story, Unequaled, while dealing with the disturbing events following Bridegroom’s death, presents a biography of both Thomas Lee Bridegroom and Shane Bitney Crone, giving more detailed accounts of their respective childhoods, formative years, how, as young men, they came to meet and become a couple.
The film is composed of a blend of still photos and video footage of Thomas Lee Bridegroom and Shane Bitney Crone, their families, friends and acquaintances taken throughout their lives. If also features interviews with Bitney Crone, members of his family, friends and acquaintances of both men. Thomas Lee Bridegroom’s family has consistently exercised their right to silence and refused any comment on the matter and appear only in still photos and snippets of video taken before their son’s untimely death. The look into their respective childhoods was particularly interesting. Before viewing the film, I had surmised that Bridegroom came from a comfortable, middle-class background. He attended the Culver Military Academy, which commands rather hefty school fees and enrolled at Vassar College following his graduation. I learned in viewing the film his parents mounted an extraordinary effort, his mother took a job at Culver to help raise the money to pay the school fees. They saw to it he had the opportunity for a very good education. Shane Bitney Crone attended state schools and left for Los Angeles following his graduation from high school to seek his fortune in the entertainment industry. He had the support of his family in pursuing his dream.
The tone of the film is quite temperate and gets the point across very gently and eloquently that gay people fall in love, become couples and set up households together. It shows just how precarious it is for a gay couple when their relationship is not afforded the same legal standing of that of a heterosexual couple; thereby making a strong case for marriage equality. It is well worth viewing and though it was inspired by the personal tragedy that befell Thomas Lee Bridegroom and Shane Bitney Crone, it documents, as the title indicates, a love story, unequaled.
Posted by Geoffrey and Mika
Tap, tap, tap is the gesture Shane Bitney Crone and Thomas Lee Bridegroom, a young gay couple, devised to show affection in public without revealing they were gay. As the day draws nearer to the premiere screening of Bridegroom: A Love Story, Unequaled, at the Tribeca Film Festival, April 23, 2013, more details, including this one, of their life together are coming to light. The more I learn about them, the more I recognize the similarities in my own life. The struggle for acceptance they experienced is all too familiar. Shane disclosed in an interview that both he and Tom “tried to pray the gay away. We tried to ignore our feelings and our natural attractions, to fight biology and live by society’s “norms.” But it just isn’t possible.”(Huffpost) When I read these words, it struck a chord. I was astonished. This is exactly how I felt during my adolescence in the latter half of the 1970s when gay liberation was just getting underway. It was a very lonely time for me, as there were no gay youth groups and homosexuality was still largely condemned as unnatural, immoral, disgusting, etc. In spite of the negative attitudes against homosexuality prevalent at the time, feelings of same sex attraction were manifesting themselves in me and I was horrified. I tried to ignore them. At the time people said it was a phase, a symptom of adolescence, of raging hormones and the like and not to worry: it would pass.
Knox, a nondescript town located in the northwest corner of the state in Starke County, Indiana with a population of 3704 souls became the focal point in hard lesson of life for me. Knox is well represented with churches, primarily Protestant denominations including Pentecostal, Baptist and various semi-independent Evangelical sects. While Knox is well outside the Bible Belt, the religious culture is very much like that you will find there. This is particularly so with regard to attitudes toward homosexuality. Generally speaking, it is a religious culture in which homosexuality is neither accepted nor tolerated. You may be wondering how it is that I came to know about and am so interested in Knox, Indiana and its religious culture. The reason, in short, is that Knox is the birthplace and final resting place of Thomas Lee Bridegroom, a young gay man whose life and untimely death I learned of in a youtube video published by his grieving partner Shane Bitney Crone. It could happen to you is the video Shane published in memory of his partner Thomas Lee Bridegroom. Continue reading