LGBT advocate to speak at Urbana University

The Urbana University Campus Activities Board will welcome Shane Bitney Crone, an award-winning filmmaker, LGBT advocate and speaker. He will visit the University Student Center on Thursday, Oct. 12, at 8 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

Crone grew up in rural Montana, which presented challenges as he grew up and struggled with his identity. He dealt with depression, anxiety and bullying.

Through a mutual friend, he met the love of his life, Tom Bridegroom, who was working as an actor and television host. They traveled the world, started a successful business, and promised to get married when it would be recognized by the federal government.

After nearly six years together, Bridegroom died after falling from a four-story apartment building. Crone was denied access to Bridegroom in the emergency room since the two were not legally recognized as a couple. He was threatened and forbidden by Bridegroom’s parents to attend his funeral.

Crone decided he wanted to do something not only to honor Bridegroom, but 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 Bridegroom’s death, Crone uploaded a video to YouTube called “It Could Happen to You.” Unexpectedly, the video went viral within a matter of days and has 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.

With director Linda Bloodworth-Thomason, Crone turned his story into a feature-length documentary – Bridegroom: A Love Story, Unequaled. Introduced by President Bill Clinton, Bridegroom premiered at the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival. During the festival it was named the Audience Choice for Best Documentary.

Bridegroom had a theatrical release in October 2013 and made its television premiere on the Oprah Winfrey Network. Bridegroom has been available for streaming on Netflix and has become one of Netflix’s most popular and highest-rated programs. 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. The film reached crucially acclaimed status on film review site Rotten Tomatoes.

Working to ensure that LGBT citizens are granted equal rights, Crone travels the world to screen Bridegroom and give talks. As of September 2015, he had spoken at over 50 universities in the United States. He recently gave a TEDx Talk in Amsterdam and delivered the keynote address at the PFLAG Conference in China. He was 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.

For more information about the event, contact the Urbana University Campus Life Office at 937-772-9281 or e-mail


Submitted story

Submitted by Urbana University.