Difficulties faced by a gay couple, especially when one half of the couple is hospitalized, were described when a filmmaker and activist, famous for his award-winning documentary, spoke about his experiences to the Rider community on April 2.
Those in attendance at the Bart Luedeke Center Theater were shown Shane Bitney Crone’s documentary, Bridegroom: A Love Story. Unequaled. The film depicted what Crone went through after his partner, Tom Bridegroom, was involved in a fatal accident. He was not allowed to visit Bridegroom in the hospital or attend his funeral. After they saw the film and listened to the film’s star speak, audience members had the opportunity to ask him questions.
Crone, active in the push for LGBTQ rights, spoke of why he travels across the country to tell his story.
“I just feel like this is part of my journey, and this is my next chapter,” Crone said. “As long as this is helping other people, I want to keep doing it.”
The documentary highlights the story of Crone’s relationship with Bridegroom and has had a positive impact on many, Crone said.
“A lot of teenagers have written me saying that it has helped them,” Crone said. “I’m grateful it’s touched people like that.”
Some students in attendance were deeply moved by the film, which was released in 2013.
“I cried my eyes out,” said Matt Holland, junior communication major. “It’s a great documentary.”
Crone has been featured on Oprah Winfrey’s show and had the documentary introduced at the Tribeca Film Festival by former President Bill Clinton.
Since Bridegroom’s death, Crone has occupied a lot of his time by speaking publicly as well as making YouTube videos about his story.
“Video diaries were an outlet for me,” Crone said. “After Tom died, I went back to that. It helped a lot.”
In addition, Crone talked about his efforts advocating for LGBTQ rights. He believes that same-sex marriage will soon be recognized nationwide, but still anticipates opposition.
“I believe there will be people who will still try to fight it after that,” Crone said. “It’s almost like some people’s last attempts to fight marriage equality.”
The event not only drew current Rider students, but also caused past students to come back and listen to Crone speak.
“Shane has been an inspiration of mine for a very long time,” Rider alumnus Justin Mersinger said. “It was an extremely amazing experience.”
Crone said that he speaks to different audiences two to three times a week about his story and will continue to do so.
“There have been so many things the last few years that have made me feel like I should be doing what I’ve been doing,” Crone said.