Saturday, July 19, 2014

Thoughts About the Documentary Bridegroom

When we talk about equal rights for the GLBTQ community, I think it's often too easy to forget that we're talking about real people. Real human beings. Not abstracts, not ideas, but men and women who love each other.  People with histories stretched out behind them and lives still ahead of them.  

The documentary Bridegroom offers one of the best arguments I've ever seen in the fight for equality.  Most of the first half of Bridegroom tells the stories of Thomas Bridegroom and Shane Bitney Crone. Where they grew up, how they each came to terms with their sexuality, how they met, how they fell in love, and how they lived their life together.  The second half tells the story of what happened when Tom died in a tragic accident.  How Shane wasn't allowed to see Tom in the hospital during his last moments alive, how Tom's parents barred Shane from the funeral and threatened him with violence if he tried to attend, how Shane began to put his life back together.

The love that existed between Shane and Tom is really the only argument it presents, but it's the only one it needs.  

I didn't expect to be as affected by their story as I was, but their story could have been anyone's story. It could have been my own.  I can say with 100% certainty that if Matt was in the hospital and someone tried to keep me out, they'd have to arrest me and throw me in prison to keep me out of his room.  My heart broke into a million pieces watching Shane's video journals at the end.  

The thing is, I'm mostly preaching to the choir here.  If we're friends, if you're reading this because you know me or because you've read my books, then you're probably already a believer in marriage equality.  I hope, if you haven't seen Bridegroom, that you'll watch it (it's on Netflix!), but you're really not the people who need to watch it.  It's people who don't believe in GLBTQ equality who need to watch this film.  It's too easy to dismiss gay rights when all your fighting against is an idea.  But Tom and Shane aren't an abstract.  Their lives and their love were real.  I'm real. Matt's real.  All of the gays and lesbians past and future are real, and that's what people need to understand.  They're not fighting against an idea, they're fighting against us.

In the end, I don't think marches or court cases, though insanely important, are going to change the hearts and minds of people who think that being gay is a sin and that we don't deserve equal rights.  That kind of change is going to have to happen one person at a time.  And this documentary is a great place to start the conversation.


  1. I hope and pray that the majority of homophobia comes from ignorance, and not maliciousness. I honestly believe that the more ignorant people have LGBTQ people come into their lives, and demonstrate that they are ... well "perfectly normal" isn't quite right, but that they are human being just like anyone else, the more ignorant people get to know them, the more ignorant people will realize and accept that love is love.

    The truly malicious bigots probably cannot be stopped, but hopefully evolution will be rid of them eventually.

    1. You know, I think that's actually the way it's going to happen. I mean, all the parades and court cases and everything draw attention to the fight, but the real change happens one person at a time. I remember when I came out at home, and my dad was really uncomfortable. He accepted me, but as a cop, the only gays he came into contact with were the ones he was arresting, so he had a low opinion of gays. I moved away to RI for a couple of years. When I returned, I noticed a change in him. He was asking me if I was going to Pride, he was more interested in my life and seemed much less uncomfortable asking me who I was dating. Come to find out, one of his friends, another cop he respected immensely, had come out. Once my dad realized that gays were people, just like everyone else—that there are good ones and bad ones and silly ones—his whole attitude changed.

      We see the same thing happening with traditionally conservative politicians. Their worldview changes when they find out they have a child or a sibling or a parent who's gay.

      I can't count the number of times I've "come out" to someone I've known for a while who's said something like, "You can't be gay, you don't act ."

      That's why this documentary was so effective. It put a human face on the struggle for equality. People can discuss gay rights and say things like, "I don't think gay should get married because it's a sin." But it's much harder to say things like, "Shane and Tom shouldn't have been allowed to get married because it's a sin." Because how could anyone see their story and not see how in love they were? I don't know how anyone could watch their story and not recognize that they deserve the same rights as everyone else.

    2. Agreed. And I think exposure can even change the hearts of people who aren't bigots. I mean, even growing up I wasn't a very prejudiced person, but I never would have become the fierce ally I am today until it affected me personally because some very important people in my life were LGBTQ. Well, maybe never is too strong a word, I hope I would have felt the way I do regardless, but we'll never know.


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