Shane Bitney Crone is an LGBT advocate, writer, and speaker. He grew up in rural Montana, which presented a number of challenges as he grew up and struggled with his identity. He dealt with depression, anxiety, and bullying. He moved to Los Angeles in 2004 to pursue a career in the entertainment industry, but more importantly to live in a more LGBT-friendly environment. Through a mutual friend, Shane met the love of his life, Tom Bridegroom, who was working as an actor and television host. Together they traveled the world, started a successful business, and promised to get married when it would be recognized by the federal government.
After being in love for nearly six years, Tom tragically died after accidentally falling from a four-story apartment building. The pain of losing Tom was compounded when Shane was denied access to Tom in the emergency room (since the two were not legally recognized as a couple) and when he was threatened and forbidden by Tom’s parents to attend Tom’s funeral.
Shane spent the following year depressed, confused, and frustrated. He decided he wanted to do something not only to honor Tom, but also 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 Tom’s death, Shane uploaded a video to YouTube called “It Could Happen to You.” Unexpectedly, the video went viral within a matter of days and has since 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.
Linda Bloodworth-Thomason, an accomplished director/producer/writer who is best known for creating the hit show Designing Women, was inspired by the YouTube video and approached Shane about turning his story into a feature-length documentary. They launched a Kickstarter campaign; the film became the most successful crowd-funding project at the time, surpassing their initial goal with the help of over 6,500 contributors. The film, Bridegroom: A Love Story, Unequaled premiered at the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival where it was introduced by President Bill Clinton.
Bridegroom had a limited theatrical release in October 2013 and made its television premiere on the Oprah Winfrey Network, after Oprah herself became inspired by Shane’s story. The film received favorable reviews from The New York Times, LA Times, and The Hollywood Reporter. 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. Bridegroom has been available for streaming on Netflix and has become one of Netflix’s most popular and highest-rated programs. Notable supporters of the film include Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Demi Lovato, Lily Tomlin, Adam Lambert, and Cuba Gooding, Jr.
Shane works diligently to ensure that LGBT citizens are granted equal rights. He travels all over the world to screen Bridegroom and give talks. As of September 2015, he has spoken at over 50 universities in the United States. He also recently gave a TEDx Talk in Amsterdam and delivered the keynote address at the PFLAG Conference in China.
Personally, Shane has been 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.
It Could Happen to You
The Power of the Personal Story | Shane Bitney Crone
“Shane was awesome last night! We had a good turnout and the audience loved him!” – John Iaccarino, Diversity Chair – Student Productions – The University of Tampa
“Thanks so much for the stellar opportunity to host Shane. It was a wonderful, memorable experience for all!” – Carole Pertofsky, Director, Wellness and Health Promotion Services – Stanford University
“Shane was absolutely wonderful; my students and I agreed that this was our very best event of the entire year. It was such a powerful experience and Shane spent a very long time with us afterwards connecting with all of our students and staff. This program had an amazing impact on both myself and the students and Shane was an absolute pleasure and inspiration to have on our campus.” – Barbara Perlman, Coordinator of Student Involvement – Lafayette College
“It was amazing…he is an amazing human being. We got such great feedback. Very appreciative that we got a chance to host him.” – Sonya Wilmoth, Assistant Director, LGBTQA Student Resource Center – Penn State University
“Shane was absolutely wonderful! Everyone gave him great reviews, and he touched a lot of people’s hearts.” — Austin Elliott, UIndy PRIDE Co-Chair – University of Indianapolis
“Shane was amazing…extremely effective in helping students understand his story from a deeply personal and importantly political perspective…It was one of the best programs we’ve hosted in a long time. Shane is, quite literally, a gift.” — Doug Bauder, Director, GLBT Student Support Services – Indiana University
“Shane was absolutely wonderful – we hope he enjoyed himself as much as we enjoyed having him here! The event was very successful – more than I had ever anticipated…the presentation was inspirational and thought-provoking. In a place like North Dakota, where we do not have LGBT anti-discrimination policies in place, his visibility at our event was significant – especially for the young people that attended.” — Cheryl Terrance, Ph.D., Co-Director Safe Zone – University of North Dakota
“Shane was awesome! I love him.” — Dave Zamansky, Assistant Director, Memorial Union, University of New Hampshire
“Shane was incredible! The audience loved him and so many people have given us feedback about how great it was to meet and get to know him. Shane is incredible and the students and faculty in the audience seemed to get a lot out of the event.” — Abbie O’Neill, Student Programming Board, Quinnipiac University
“Shane was a huge hit. Such a great guy and very sweet.” — Chad Eddings, Vice Director – Kentuckiana Pride Foundation
“Shane was AMAZING! He is such a fantastic guy! Thank you so much for helping that become a reality!” — Jenn Bock, SGA Executive – Carthage College
“AWESOME! Both the documentary and Shane were very well received and they both have received rave reviews from the attendees. Shane was quite a guy to spend time with: personable, nice, down to earth and just great fun to hang out with!” — Michael Rutkowski, Grants Manager – Rider University
“He was absolutely wonderful!” — Becky Swearingen, Union Programs Business Manager – University of Kansas
“Shane was an absolute delight. He engaged the audience in thoughtful conversation but he really was able to shine in one on one conversations during a meet and greet afterwards. I’ve had multiple students and staff members comment on how impactful the event was and how much they appreciated the presentation. I’d highly recommend him to any other institution that asked my opinion… ” — Stephen Loveless, Director – LGBTQA Resource Center – Northeastern Illinois University
“Bridegroom went outstanding! Shane was truly a pleasure to work with. Shane spent 1-1.5 hours after his Q & A to speak with crowd members, take pictures, sign posters, etc. Definitely a great event and a great person to work with.” — Andrew Rash, Coordinator – Leadership & Volunteerism – Western Kentucky University
“Shane is THE BEST! Our students, faculty, staff, and community members were so deeply impacted by his story and his visit to MSU” — Ariel Donohue, Program Manager – Diversity Awareness Office – Montana State University
“Shane was really amazing, we’ve had quite a few speakers come through ODU Out and he was probably one of the most down to earth, funny, and warmest people we’ve had join us at the university in a long time…it was a really powerful and moving experience.” — Connor Norton, Advisory Board – ODU Gay-Cultural Studies – Old Dominion University
“As for the event it was phenomenal, we had 145 in attendance, we had people drive in from Austin, Houston, and of all places Oklahoma. Everyone really enjoyed and were deeply moved by the documentary. Shane was very engaging, he didn’t miss a beat, you could really tell he was invested in meeting people and talking with them and really worked to get to know them. Myself getting to spend the most time with him backstage, to and from the venue, I feel like I got to know him as more than just the speaker or the guy who is in the documentary (I hope that made sense). I feel like I made a new friend and that was a great experience for me.” Mark Bigelow, Student Leadership and Activities, San Antonio College
“Shane Bitney Crone and the Bridegroom video was a huge success! Students, faculty, staff and community members gave rave reviews. Shane is a wonderful person and his presentation and video provided us all with personal reflection on how we should treat others with respect.. I would highly recommend this program.” — Kelly Harris, Director – Career Services – Eureka College
“Yes the event was a success! Shane is so humble and sincere, it was an honor to have him on campus.” — Assistant Director of Student Activities and Orientation – York College of Pennsylvania
“Shane Bitney Crone was phenomenal! We had people here that had traveled from 2 and 3 hours away just to see him. And he connected so genuinely, and so humbly with the students – I can’t remember a time when we’ve had that kind of energy in the room. Just amazing!” — Director of Student Affairs – Clarion University – Venango College
“Shane’s visit to campus is the highlight of my career as an educator. To witness the positive and truly caring fashion in which he interacted with students was astounding—it’s an educator’s dream to see students so moved and engaged.” –Professor Andrew Stout, Instructor of Composition & Rhetoric and Women’s & Gender Studies, Pace University
“Shane was excellent! He arrived early to meet everyone. He loved the gifts we had made for him and facilitated an excellent and heartfelt Q&A. He also stayed behind late to connect with every single attendee that wanted to met him which we were really happy about. His presence meant so much to many of the attendees from our Queer and Allied communities on campus. Thank you for allowing us the opportunity to bring him to CSUF” – Associated Students – California State University/Fullerton
“Shane was absolutely amazing! The feedback I have gotten about the event has been amazing and every minute with him was great.” – Campus Activity Board – Eastern Connecticut State University
“Shane was wonderful and the film (obviously) was great…It was truly a pleasure to meet him and talk. He’s something special…Our college president came to the event and was really moved. He really appreciated the opportunity to meet Shane.” – Student Government – Cascadia Community College
“Shane Bitney Crone recently came to the University of Iowa College of Law to speak and screen his film Bridegroom. Shane spoke in an eloquent manner that captivated the entire audience. His empathetic soul allowed him to connect naturally with all men and women in attendance. Shane’s film moved the audience to tears and brought understanding to the situation of all couples, regardless of sexual orientation, that are unmarried. Without a doubt, Shane is a humble individual whose goal is to make the world for all men and women a little bit easier.” Senior Symposium Editor – The Journal of Gender Race & Justice – The University of Iowa College of Law
“Students were really impacted by your documentary and the discussion with you. You definitely made an impact on this campus. “ – Haven (The student-run LGBTQQIAA organization) – University of Delaware
“What a wonderful, wonderful young man. His presentation of the documentary and his candor in doing the Q&A were professional, sincere, and very powerful. Our event was very successful.” – GIESORC – Washington State University
“I don’t know if words can really even express how amazing Shane was. From the moment he came on campus to the time he left there was a “feeling”. Today someone from the Vice-President’s office said, “something changed with our campus after that event.” It’s been about 48 hours since the event and STILL people are talking about ALL DAY! I knew we would have a great impact, but I didn’t think it would be this great of an impact. We had about 175 people at the lecture-style event when traditionally we average about 50-70. Shane’s personality and story has forever impacted our campus. And, he was AWESOME to work with. One of the nicest, most genuine people I have EVER met and I have worked with a lot of speakers and entertainers. The students actually said, “we don’t want him to leave” and I couldn’t disagree. ” – Student Activities and EC Programming Board – Emmanuel College