Few things in film have the power to move you like real life tragedy and heartache. But that’s what this film does – it brings one man’s joy and pain to life in order to make the world better for others.
The story: Shane and Tom both grew up in small towns where being gay was not accepted. They both had their struggles, but found love with each other when they both met in Los Angeles. Their relationship is like the stuff of fairy tales – it was the perfect relationship, the perfect love. But our society doesn’t recognize it as one, and when tragedy took Tom from Shane it became ever more apparent. Laws and rules that come from people who hate kept them apart as Tom died, and Tom’s family made recovering through the grief impossible. Amazingly Shane came through stronger and fearless and determined to make the world a better place.
I watched this film earlier this year, and I wanted to watch and review it for this site in the wake of what is happening with marriage equality in the past week. Many states will now recognize same-sex marriage, but it is too late in that it comes at a cost. The cost is human, and this documentary shows just what that looks like.
I commend Shane for making this film and for his reasons behind it. But I also have to acknowledge the sacrifice he makes in revealing something so personal. I was struck by many of his personal video diaries – they are very raw with emotion. I suppose some people might have left them out so they would remain personal and private, but the inclusion of them brings home the gut-wrenching heartache that comes after Tom’s death.
How does marriage equality play any role in this? If they had been married, Shane would have had the proper role after Tom passed away. He could have been there by his side when he passed. He would have been able to memorialize him in the way he wanted and actually be there at his funeral. He would have not had to deal with Tom’s family’s drama at a time when he needed only support and to make it through his grief.
I think it was Shane’s 90 year old grandmother who stated, “They’re Romeo and Romeo – get over it!” If only Tom’s parents could have gotten that message in some form. Some people get it and some do not. There’s a lot of positivity in the media these days about LGBT issues, but this documentary points out that all is not well. There are many people out there who are still very homophobic for whatever reason, and that attitude in society is harmful. It manifests in a very real way and has very real consequences. In this case a couple was denied what they should have had. In other cases it leads to younger generations of LGBT kids who commit suicide because they’re not able to cope with what our society throws at them at one of their most vulnerable times.
The themes in this movie are obvious so I don’t need to go into them here. But what I am left with after viewing the film a second time is the beautiful relationship Tom and Shane had, how precious love is and how we must respect and be in awe of it, and how things must continue to change in the world for people to live as they are and to be happy. As one of their friends said, “It’s not a gay thing. It’s not a straight thing. It’s a human thing.”
This film receives my highest rating as a must see film.