Inspired by Shane Bitney Crone’s viral YouTube video, It Could Happen To You; a young and in love gay couple’s story has been turned into a full-length documentary film, written and directed by Linda Bloodworth-Thomason.

Deeply tender and thought provoking Bridegroom takes a in-depth look into the harsh reality of being in an unmarried same-sex partnership in many parts of America, and although the marriage equality movement is growing with leaps and bounds both here in the UK and the US, there are stories like these that demonstrate the need for legislation and society to catch up.

Tom and Shane (Bitney Crone) moved from their childhood, republican, small town homes and everything that implies – courtesy of Bloodworth-Thomason’s prowess as a storyteller, to the big city of Los Angeles. Tom from Indiana, Shane from Montana.

They met, embarked on a loving relationship (the home video is testament to how much these men loved each other), travelled the world, lived together, owned a business, got a dog, when suddenly in May 2011, Tom, in a tragic accident lost his life after falling from the 4th floor of an apartment building.

It might be all too easy to pass this film off just as a political tool for same-sex marriage equality, but the story goes deeper than the legal ramifications of bedside access in hospitals for a loved one of someone dying; it goes deeper than how a person’s possessions are split after their death and the rights of the surviving partner to attend a funeral.

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Tom and Shane weren’t legally married – although they had agreed to wed once same-sex marriage was legal again in the state of California. In a bitter irony, two years after Tom’s death, the repeal of DOMA and Proposition 8 – meant that gay marriage became legal in California.

Shane’s painful, harrowing recounting of his partner’s death and the aftermath of Tom’s family’s reaction, in many ways should give us hope in how to move forward from today. That no day should be wasted. That no day should be one where we forget our fight for equality. That no day should we feel afraid to hold our partner’s hand in public. Bridegroom is one of the most important films for this generation. Its message is one that the world needs to hear.

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It is utterly life changing.

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About the author: Jake Hook
The editor and chief of THEGAYUK. All in a previous life wrote and produced songs on multi-platinum records.