Shane Bitney Crone is an LGBT advocate, writer, and speaker. He grew up in rural Montana, which presented a number of challenges as he grew up and struggled with his identity. He dealt with depression, anxiety, and bullying. He moved to Los Angeles in 2004 to pursue a career in the entertainment industry, but more importantly to live in a more LGBT-friendly environment. Through a mutual friend, Shane met the love of his life, Tom Bridegroom, who was working as an actor and television host. Together they traveled the world, started a successful business, and promised to get married when it would be recognized by the federal government.
After being in love for nearly six years, Tom tragically died after accidentally falling from a four-story apartment building. The pain of losing Tom was compounded when Shane was denied access to Tom in the emergency room (since the two were not legally recognized as a couple) and when he was threatened and forbidden by Tom’s parents to attend Tom’s funeral.
Shane spent the following year depressed, confused, and frustrated. He decided he wanted to do something not only to honor Tom, but also to educate others about what had happened and how they could prevent similar misfortune in the wake of an unexpected tragedy. On the one year anniversary of Tom’s death, Shane uploaded a video to YouTube called “It Could Happen to You.” Unexpectedly, the video went viral within a matter of days and has since been viewed over 20 million times on YouTube and other social media platforms. GLAAD named it one of the “Most Inspiring Videos That Helped Push Equality Forward.” In 2015, Entertainment Weekly said that the video played a significant role in the push for nationwide marriage equality.
Linda Bloodworth-Thomason, an accomplished director/producer/writer who is best known for creating the hit show Designing Women, was inspired by the YouTube video and approached Shane about turning his story into a feature-length documentary. They launched a Kickstarter campaign; the film became the most successful crowd-funding project at the time, surpassing their initial goal with the help of over 6,500 contributors. The film, Bridegroom: A Love Story, Unequaled premiered at the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival where it was introduced by President Bill Clinton.
Bridegroom had a limited theatrical release in October 2013 and made its television premiere on the Oprah Winfrey Network, after Oprah herself became inspired by Shane’s story. The film received favorable reviews from The New York Times, LA Times, and The Hollywood Reporter. It received audience awards at dozens of film festivals, won GLAAD’s Best Documentary award (2014), and was named Best Documentary by The Gay And Lesbian Critics Association (2014). IMDb named it one of the most popular documentaries of 2014. Bridegroom has been available for streaming on Netflix and has become one of Netflix’s most popular and highest-rated programs. Notable supporters of the film include Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Demi Lovato, Lily Tomlin, Adam Lambert, and Cuba Gooding, Jr.
Shane works diligently to ensure that LGBT citizens are granted equal rights. He travels all over the world to screen Bridegroom and give talks. As of September 2015, he has spoken at over 50 universities in the United States. He also recently gave a TEDx Talk in Amsterdam and delivered the keynote address at the PFLAG Conference in China.
Personally, Shane has been awarded the Harvey Milk Civil Rights Award and was named one of Instinct Magazine’s Leading Men, one of Out Magazine’s Out 100, and one of Huffington Post’s Most Compelling People.
“Shane’s visit to campus is the highlight of my career as an educator. To witness the positive and truly caring fashion in which he interacted with students was astounding—it’s an educator’s dream to see students so moved and engaged.”
- Professor Andrew Stout, Instructor of Composition & Rhetoric and Women’s & Gender Studies, Pace University, 9/16/14
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