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LOS ANGELES – A YouTube video by a young gay man whose partner died in a tragic fall, which painfully illustrates the second-class citizenship of LGBT couples who cannot legally marry, has gone viral on the Internet.
As of today, more than 640,000 people have viewed the video titled “It Could Happen To You,” resulting in almost 15,000 likes and 260 dislikes.
Shane Bitney Crone’s heart-wrenching story is told in a 10-minute video that outlines how unmarried gay couples are treated unfairly and unequally when one of the partners dies without an ironclad will.
Crone was madly in love with Tom Bridegroom, and they were a couple for six years before Bridegroom fell off a roof to his death during a photo shoot in May 2011. Crone, 26, was born in Montana and moved to L.A. to pursue a career as an actor, according to IMDb.com. Bridegroom was the host of MTV’s “The X Effect” in 2006 and 2007, and appeared as himself in 2008 in two episodes of “The Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency.”
The couple were engaged to be married, but California’s Proposition 8 prohibits marriage equality. Although Prop 8 was declared unconstitutional, the appeals process is currently ongoing in court.
Crone’s story puts a face on the issues, and he writes this in the preface to his video:
“It has been said that sharing personal stories is one of the most effective ways to change people's hearts and minds. This is my story and I hope you are inspired to share it with others.”
In the video, Crone shares how Bridegroom’s family from Indiana, who were hostile toward their son after he came out, manipulated the grieving partner, cut communications with him, threatened to harm him if he attended the funeral, and refused to furnish information about Bridegroom’s death, autopsy and burial.
“Had Tom and I been legally married, many things would have been different. Losing a loved one is devastating enough, but to then be rendered legally insignificant only makes the pain worse,” Crone says in the video.
His ordeal has inspired Crone to fight back.
“I need to fight for what’s right. I need to fight for what I believe in and I can’t just stand back any more. Maybe that’s why this all happened, maybe this is part of the reason, to open my eyes and inspire me to want to make a change and fight for equality,” he says in the video.
“I just don’t know if people will listen. I guess no one’s going to listen if I don’t talk. So I’m talking.”