Thursday, July 17, 2014


I'm not entirely sure when I first heard about Bridegroom, the Movie. I do remember that I became more curious and intrigued with every reference I came across. Friends on Facebook filled me in on details of the story and even without having seen a minute of coverage my heart was breaking a little. 

When I discovered that Shane Bitney Crone would be bringing the movie to Dublin, Ireland for a once off viewing I knew I had to attend. I applied for two tickets and was delighted when we received confirmation that the husband and I would be able to be part of the event.

Yesterday afternoon we drove the one and a half hours it takes us to get to the centre of Dublin. It was a wonderful warm afternoon and as luck would have it we managed to find parking not too far from the venue; an amazing evening foreshadowed in small details.

I have to be honest and say that the venue in the offices of Dublin Corporation were much smaller than I expected. In my mind this was going to be an event with hundreds if not thousands of participants. As it was I wouldn't be surprised if there were only about a hundred of us there. One hundred extremely privileged individuals who were treated to an evening they're unlikely to forget any time soon, if ever.

I could try to tell the story behind the movie / documentary in my own words but have decided there is no need to reinvent the wheel. The following has been copied from Wikipedia:

"Bridegroom chronicles the story of Shane Bitney Crone and his same-sex partner Thomas Lee "Tom" Bridegroom, who died in a tragic accident. After Bridegroom's death, Crone found himself cut off and deprived of any legal protection. The film tells the story of their 6-year-long relationship, and the struggles Crone faced after Bridegroom's death, including the family not allowing Crone to attend the funeral of his life partner."

Maybe the viewing went off to a bit of an unfortunate start when the audience burst out laughing at the mention of Garth Brooks early on in the movie. I was grateful when one member of the audience took the time during the question and answer session afterwards to explain no disrespect had been meant. It was just an unfortunate coincidence that the country singer has been in Ireland's headlines for all the wrong and rather obscure reasons for the past three weeks or so. 

During the rest of the movie the only sound in the room was provided by the sound track. The audience was collectively mesmerized by the unfolding story. It turned out to be impossible to watch this and not get emotionally involved. Any story in which two lovers so clearly meant for each other are cruelly torn apart by faith would be enough to break even the toughest heart. For Shane, losing his partner and the love of his life was of course only the start of the nightmare. It is impossible to imagine what it might be like to be robbed of the opportunity to properly pay your last respects to the person you've loved. To have that person cut out of your life as if he'd been a figment of your imagination, to be left with little besides the memories you built together.

Picture property of Liberties Festival
Once the movie was over it was time for a question and answer session with Shane Bitney Crone. The standing ovation he received was much deserved although I couldn't help feeling it made him slightly uncomfortable. I'm so grateful this part of the evening wasn't rushed. I'm fairly sure every single person who wanted to ask a question or make a statement got an opportunity to do so. Unfortunately my memory isn't good enough to share those questions and Shane's answers here. Two however stood out.

Shane was invited to visit Ireland again, next year when we are due to have our referendum on marriage equality. While no promises were made it was encouraging to hear him say he would love to come back. At the moment polls seem to indicate the referendum will pass by a comfortable enough margin. Polls are no guarantee though and I am convinced the cause can only be strengthened by his return to Ireland and, if at all possible, a broadcast of the movie on national television.

I both cringed and held my breath when one audience member asked Shane if he thought he'd ever love like that again. My heart lifted when Shane said that while he wasn't looking for love he didn't rule it out either. 

Once all questions had been asked and answered the audience had the opportunity to meet with Shane one on one for a moment. I'm still not sure where I found the courage. Walking up to someone I don't know, talking to them never mind giving them a hug is so counter intuitive for me. I'm sure I wouldn't have done it if it hadn't been for my husband more or less forcing me. I'm grateful he made me do it though. 

The admiration I felt for him after watching the movie and Q & A got even stronger. I'm not sure where he finds the strength to do what he does because he is for all intents and purposes breaking his heart open, in public, time and again. And yet there doesn't seem to be any bitterness, no hate towards Tom Bridegroom's family. He has found meaning in Tom's death as well as a reason to keep on going. He is doing what he can to change the world into a place where no one will have to go through his ordeal. 

I can't thank Liberties Festival Dublin enough for hosting this event. I am grateful to have been given the opportunity to meet a man who is a shining light in a sometimes dark and depressing world as well as an inspiration for all who meet him. 

Being me I couldn't help myself and had to share my personal hopes and beliefs with Shane once I'd gotten over my shyness. I am convinced we are heading towards the day when being gay will be the same as being a red-head; people may still make fun of you occasionally but in the grander scheme of things it won't make a difference.

Photo Gallery for Bridegroom the Movie


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