When Shane Bitney Crone’s boyfriend of six years, Tom Bridegroom, died from a tragic accident, Bridegroom’s family prevented Shane from visiting his dying boyfriend in the hospital or even attending his funeral. On the first anniversary of Bridegroom’s death, Crone posted a video to You Tube titled, “It Could Happen to You.” In this video, he details the gut-wrenching reality of having a partner die without the legal protections afforded by marriage.

In the hands of Designing Women creator Linda Bloodworth-Thomason, Shane’s viral video has been fleshed out into a full-length documentary titled “Bridegroom”, funded by a record-breaking Kickstarter campaign. The film opens with a valentine to Tom, where we learn how these two small-town boys moved to Los Angeles and found the love of their lives. We meet Crone’s family, who also struggled to accept their son’s sexuality.  In the end, love triumphed over ideology; sadly, the same cannot be said for the Bridegroom family. While this film made me pull out the Kleenex, this story does not end at the grave. Rather, Shane emerges as an accidental activist who points us a way forward, should we choose to fight for a world where people can love freely and legally.

I saw this documentary at the 2013 Seattle Gay and Lesbian Film Festival and the film is available for rental via Netflix.

Becky Garrison is a satirist/storyteller whose most recent book is Roger Williams’s Little Book of Virtues (Wipf & Stock, March 2020). Also, she edited Love, Always: Partners of Trans People on Intimacy, Challenge and Resilience (Transgress Press, 2015). Her six books include 2006’s Red and Blue God, Black and Blue Church (PW, starred review).