Shane and Tom were the cutest twink couple you’ve ever seen. From the time they first met, it was a real connection: Both were from small Midwestern towns; both had conservative families; both loves to sing and perform and listen to Garth Brooks. Only Shane’s folks understood when he came out that being gay wasn’t a choice, and supported and loved him unconditional.
Tom’s parents were not so understanding. They claimed Shane “converted” (and perverted) Tom. That it was a sin. Tom’s dad even threatened to come to California and “gut” Shane for what he did.
Shane and Tom were stunned, but they kept on, traveling the world and vlogging about their adventure in Macchu Picchu and the Great Pyramids.
Then Tom died.
Bridgegroom, which is just one of the gay-themed films at the USA Film Festival this weekend (it plays tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the Angelika Mockingbird Station), traces they tragic but beautiful relationship as they struggled to achieve marriage equality and combat homophobia. The documentary, directed by Linda Bloodworth-Thomason (creator of Designing Women), is brief (less than 90 minutes) but punchy, filled with tons of video diaries, home movies and personal interviews (the best with Shane’s sassy great-grandma) explaining their struggles (when Tom is taken to the hospital, Shane is excluded for not being a relative) and Shane’s recovery from the pain of his loss, including his conflict with Tom’s parents. It’s a plainspoken and deeply moving story that strikes many familiar chords. Try leaving the screening with a dry eye.