Update: I saw Bridegroom last night at a screening with Shane Bitney Crone in attendance.
The film has a new trailer which can be seen here.
The story is as compelling as ever, and there is much more to these two men and their families than we've seen on YouTube. Of those previously unseen aspects, the trajectory of Tom's mother's relationship with Shane is the one I found the most unresolved, which also speaks to the challenges we continue to face. The prevailing thought was, "If you love us and see how we love each other in the same way you love each other, you would not hate nor discriminate against us." That approach, while effective with many (see Rob Portman's change of heart on gay marriage.), is *not* working with many older, conservative segments of the population, even when those within their own families come out to them. (The documentary makes it clear that Martha Bridegroom had spent time with Tom and Shane in California long before the accident and after she knew they were all-but-married to each other.)
We learn how these two men both were born and raised in rural America (one in Kalispell, Montana, the other in Knox, Indiana) and how, in many ways, they were opposites; one was a popular kid in school, at ease with most everyone he came in contact with; the other was castigated and shunned by, what seems like, the majority his community and spent the better part of his youth learning to hate himself, ultimately manifesting as an anxiety disorder and multiple calls to 911.
(The first half of the documentary easily serves as a message about bullying and why the suicide rate remains so high for LGBT youth.)
Tom moves to LA after attending Carver military school and Vassar to pursue an acting career; Shane moves to LA as quickly as he can after high school and begins work as a production assistant. Shane's move was motivated by self-preservation even though he continued to feel shame about his sexual orientation.
When Tom met Shane on a blind date their respective BFFs secretly set up, Tom, the confident and strong one, three years older and much more worldly, recognized that he and the too cautious, too timid Shane were a match in the ways that mattered, even if Shane was still very much a little boy lost in the world.
Tom pursued Shane and their long term, monogamous relationship followed.
Shane wrote a great letter to Tom as part of his grieving process, saying he couldn't understand why Tom had wanted to be with him.
My dear Tom,
I never understood why you chose me. I couldn't understand how you, the athlete, the musician, the popular kid who excelled in everything, wanted to be with me. You were so intelligent, compassionate and funny; everyone loved you. I was an awkward kid from Montana who barely survived high school and moved to L.A. wearing a red fleece vest that I wore even during the summer.
But you always believed in me. You challenged me to be a better person, and you tried so hard to get me to see the good in myself. You tried to convince me that I was worthy of love -- of your love.
Because of Shane's reluctance to express their love in even the most modest of PDAs, the couple created a secret way to say "I love you" to each other in public.
Their six years together seem idyllic; It is hard not to be a little critical of how their relationship is portrayed as the most perfect union of two souls ever, but the film is not about whatever bumps or challenges they had in their relationship; It is about how much they loved each other and how clear it is that they should have had the right to be legally married and obtain the protections that come along with it.
The rest of the story you already know (though the film does a great job of filling in a lot more details) from the YouTube video.
Their story is incredibly powerful, but I found the film's construction wanting. The friend I went to the movie with is a filmmaker and he was moved by the story but shared my feeling that the re-enactments and blank backdrops were too often either a bit ham-fisted or under-polished, as was some of the editing...but that did not stop either us from having tears well up during the movie.
When the film was over, Shane got a much deserved standing ovation. He stayed to answer questions and seemed to be an incredibly humble, quiet person. I was surprised by how shy he was; I had assumed (wrongly) that anyone who recorded themselves on camera as much as he and Tom did would not be reserved. Shane cracked a few self deprecating jokes about how much footage he was able to provide the producers. Other jokes were at the expense of his two grandmothers, who are the brightest things in the film.
Shane talked about the film and its impact on his family in Montana. He said that as much as things have gotten better there, having his love story shared in the local newspapers could make things difficult for some of his family members. (This was in response to a question wondering if the film is being shown in his hometown.)
He also responded about Tom Bridegroom's immediate family being as silent and unresponsive as ever. (They were asked to participate in the documentary and various media have attempted to reach them to no avail.) Shane expects that he will never hear from them again.
I only regret that I did not ask Shane if his best friend from high school had seen the film, as that was the first part of Shane's back story that got my heart all twisted up. (I asked what is next for him and he said he is just going to keep telling this story.)
Shane seemed to smile the most when folks told him how they had shared his video as part of their efforts to change folks' hearts and minds about marriage equality.
The film will be on DVD and iTunes in November.
It will be on Oprah's OWN network on October 27th and on Netflix streaming, the same day.
He said he wished he could just give the film away to everyone that wanted it.
This is a must buy DVD for me.
i just found out a documentary I have been waiting for is finally completed and making the festival rounds. I can only imagine a DVD and Blu-ray will be forthcoming, as the film is already getting so much attention additional screenings are being added where it is playing.
If you don't know the of Shane Bitney Crone and Tom Brideroom's love story, you many want bring along a large box of tissues.
BRIDEGROOM tells the emotional journey of Shane and Tom, two young men in a loving and committed relationship - a relationship that was cut tragically short by a misstep off the side of a roof. The story of what happened after this accidental death - of how people without the legal protections of marriage can find themselves completely shut out and ostracized - is poignant, enraging and opens a window onto the issue of marriage equality like no speech or lecture ever will. On May 7, 2012, the anniversary of Tom's death, after a year of documenting his own grief, Shane decided to make a video tribute to his partner entitled "It Could Happen To You."
Here is a link to that original YouTube video.
This film, posted on YouTube, received over 3.2 million hits and inspired over 50 thousand e-mails and comments on YouTube and Facebook. The impact of Shane's original film and the raw nerve it touched, tells us this is an important story that needs to be brought to the world stage.
The film was introduced by Bill Clinton at a recent showing and this is a partial excerpt of what
President Bill Clinton said about the film:
“This is really, on one level, a wonderful, sad, heartbreaking yet exhilarating and life affirming story, and on another level it’s a story about our nation’s struggle to make one more step in forming a more perfect union, for which marriage is both the symbol and substance,” Clinton told the crowd.
The audience seemed to be hanging on his every word. “America needs to see the consequences of a world in which gay people who love each other are accepted, and one in which they are not accepted, both in the same movie,...”
Here is a link to the trailer for the film.
I am hoping that the film gives updates on the Bridegroom family's reaction to all this attention.
A former US President just took the time to introduce a film that likely condemns them for their ignorance and intolerance towards their own son and his grieving, all-but-legal, husband.
Edited by Mark Walker, October 06 2013 - 06:20 AM.