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
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.