About a year or so ago I came across a YouTube video on Facebook posted by someone called Shane Crone who's partner died; he had documented his grief on video, titled it "It Could Happen To You" and shared it over the internet. It tells an important story which needed to be told, to be shared, and for action to take place because of it. Little did this man Shane know just how big an affect it was going to be.
That is how the movie Bridegroom was created. Bridegroom is a documentary about the story of Shane and Tom, a committed couple in a loving relationship which was cut short by a misstep off the roof of their apartment.
Linda Bloodworth Thomason, the director of 'Bridegroom', tells the story which unfolds after the tragic aftermath, where Shane is denied all rights, ostracized and not legally recognised by the law. This documentary opens the doors of marriage equality like nothing I have seen before and really shows the importance of it for everyone out there.
Even at the peak of the tragic event, when Tom was in hospital, Shane was denied the right to any information from the medical staff as he was not classed as immediate family, or a relation to Tom.
This demostartes the importance of equal rights and how we should all be entitled to them, regardless of sexuality. Love is love. What authority does anyone have to confine love to others when love has no boundaries?
Sadly it is not just society and the government who try to deny us rights, rights which are given freely to others. It can be those we deem the closest to us, those we call family, that can deny us the rights we deserve and who hurt us the most.
Bridegroom sheds light on this in the form of Tom's family who deny Shane the right to attend Tom's funeral and try to take away his belongings, denying and hiding any existence of their relationship. They had bought a house and started a business together. The documentary states that the makers made efforts to contact Tom's family, but they never responded to the invitation, thus allowing the story to be told through Shane, his family and their friends.
You're grieving the death of your partner only to be told you are not allowed to attend the funeral. It astounds me how families can do this and sleep at night, denying their son/brother/nephews partner to the funeral. Does it not register, like it clearly didn't in the minds of Tom's family, that having Shane at the funeral would be what he would have wanted?
I would be furious at my family and spin in my grave if they dared to deny a partner access to my funeral should a tragedy occur cutting short my life. They have no right at all and as far as I'm concerned this is a selfish and thoughtless act and even though I may not have known Tom myself, I can bet this was totally disregarding what Tom would have wanted.
Bridegroom not only clearly depicts the horrors that go on still, and stresses the importance of equality for all, it also shows the sheer courage, determination and bravery of Shane, who having lost the love of his life, is happy to put it all out there and risk everything else he has left to get his story and message across.
It shows how it all starts with just one person. One idea, a single determination which can, with the power of social media, manifest into something that nobody expected - to reach an audience in its millions, stretching all around the world.
This is a story that should show us that any doubt we may have seeded in our thoughts over anything in life where we think we are just one small person on this planet so can't make a difference....look at what Shane did. Look at the power the tool of social media really is.
You and I can change the world, it just takes one small step at a time, - and that first step may be yours.
For anyone who wants to watch this documentary please see the movie website. It is also available on Netflix which is how I was able to watch it (especially for those who may be reading this who are based in the UK). Please share this documentary with your friends and family, to show just how important the right to equality is and what not having it can cause.
Remember, you may just be one voice, but that voice could be the start of something phenomenal, life changing and positive. Make yourself heard. What I think this tragedy has taught us is to make a stand, and be that voice that makes a change.
Macklemore, the American Rap artist wrote a song entitled "Same Love" which talks about the fight for equality, to marry and love who we want to marry, and the stand for gay rights. His uncle is gay and he can't marry his partner at the moment as it is not recognised in their state. The lyrics below are so powerful and they hit me every time I hear the song and I want to share them to stress the importance of them. This song is also featured in the closing credits of Bridegroom.
"When everyone else is more comfortable remaining voiceless
Rather than fighting for humans that have had their rights stolen
I might not be the same, but that's not important
No freedom till we're equal, damn right I support it"
- "Same Love" By Macklemore and Lewis