Photo by Shane Bitney Crone

Bridegroom is a moving and disarmingly straightforward documentary about a gay couple’s relationship that was cut short by a tragic accident. The surviving partner later posted a tribute on YouTube that garnered millions of views and inspired this film. Writer-producer-director Linda Bloodworth Thomason, best known as the creator of television’s Designing Women, wisely decided not to preach or take to a soapbox. Her film is effective because it tells one couple’s story and allows it to implicitly represent thousands of others.

Shane Bitney Crone came from a conservative family in a small town in Montana. Tom Bridegroom was the pride of his family in Indiana, an honors student who attended Culver Military Academy. They met in Los Angeles, where they both fled in the hope of living freer lives. As Crone writes, “We realized that in order to be fully committed to one another, we would need to officially come out to our respective families. Mine embraced our relationship, while Tom’s parents blamed me for ‘turning’ him gay, pulled a gun on him, and encouraged him to take his sinful sexuality to the grave with him.”

Crone has kept a video diary for years, which provided Bloodworth Thomason with a treasure trove of raw material to use in her film, which also incorporates interviews with friends and family members.

Inspired by Shane’s YouTube video “It Could Happen to You,” Bridegroom was funded by an exceptionally successful Kickstarter campaign. Following its debut at the TriBeca Film Festival earlier this year, where it won the Audience Award, it will air on the OWN Network on October 27 and be released on DVD on November 19 by Virgil Films.

Bridegroom also opens at four Laemmle Theaters in Los Angeles today. It’s well worth seeing—and sharing.