Wilkes hosts ‘Bridegroom’

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First Posted: 10/13/2014

WILKES-BARRE — The story of Shane Bitney Crone and Thomas Bridegroom is tragic, yet it’s a story that Crone wants to be heard over and over.

Crone and Bridegroom were an unmarried gay couple enjoying their life together when Bridegroom died. After Crone released a video on You Tube that went viral, award winning director Linda Bloodworth-Thomason filmed a documentary, simply called “Bridegroom,” that tells the couple’s story.

Crone and Bridegroom shared a mortgage and were partners in an entertainment business. In 2011, while photographing a friend, Bridegroom fell four stories to his death. He was 29.

Since they were not married, Crone discovered he had no legal standing in the relationship. Crone’s family was supportive, but Bridegroom’s family was not — they didn’t allow him to attend his partner’s funeral.

“Bridegroom” will be screened in the Dorothy Dickson Darte Center for Performing Arts at Wilkes University on Tuesday at 7 p.m. The creator and executive producer of the film, Crone, will participate in a Q&A following the screening. The screening is free and open to the public, but space is limited. The Darte Center theater seats about 478 people.

Anthony Bartoli, 22, senior communications studies student at Wilkes University, spearheaded bringing the film to the Wilkes campus.

“It’s just as powerful as anything you can imagine,” Bartoli said. “People need to realize this is a situation that unfortunately happens.”

So Bartoli went to work on the project and eventually contacted Crone and arranged to have the documentary shown at his school with Crone serving as host for the evening.

“I challenge all to come to the documentary with an open mind so we can all have a better understanding of each other and the world we live in,” Bartoli said.

According to the film’s website — BridegroomMovie.com — the documentary 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.

Crone discusses the film

Crone said most of his life he was ashamed of being gay. He said he allowed his peers, conservative Christian hate speech, and homophobic messages in the media convince him that he wasn’t worthy of love and therefore he didn’t feel as if he would ever find someone to love.

“So Bridegroom isn’t just a film about marriage equality, it’s a film about acceptance and loving one another unconditionally,” Crone said. “It’s a film about being who you are and loving who you love when the world is telling you that you shouldn’t.”

Asked if seeing the film over and over has been difficult for him, Crone said he believes time heals heals and knowing that so many positive things have taken place following Tom’s passing, it feels good knowing that his death was not in vain.

Crone said losing his partner showed him that life is fragile and you never know when it might be your last day.

“I’ve spent most of my life living in fear and holding myself back from truly being free,” he said. “Don’t do what I did; don’t give power to your unfortunate circumstances or to people who try to minimize or degrade you. Stand up for what you believe in, be proud of who you are and do what makes you happy, because tomorrow isn’t promised.”

The screening is sponsored by the Wilkes University Student Government, Wilkes University Programming Board, Wilkes University Multi-cultural Student Coalition, Wilkes University Office of Diversity, Zebra Communications and private donors.