Proud Times Magazine

Shane Bitney Crones Loss and Life

Shane Bitney Crones Loss and Life

Shane Bitney Crones Loss and Life
July 30
20:07 2013
By April Rose Schneider – Proud Times Issue #2  page 14

Shane Bitney Crone is a passionate LGBT activist. Shane’s path to activism, according to him, began with the untimely accidental death of his partner Tom. As Shane went through the grieving process, he learned painful lessons about hate and bigotry, and the importance of legal safeguards in LGBT relationships. On his path to recovery, Shane transformed his pain of loss and victimization into incredible activism. Find out about Shane’s transformation in the following interview with Proud Times writer April Rose Schneider.

 Hi Shane–and thanks for taking some time out of your day to talk with me and Proud Times magazine. You’ve been busy lately. It’s been over a year and a half since your partner Tom fell to his death while taking photographs from the fourth floor of a building. Is that correct?

Yes, it was one of our best friend’s apartment building. We had been there many times.

We here at Proud Times extend our deep condolences to you and your family. How are you holding up?

Thank you for that. The year following the accident was by far the most difficult period of my life. There was a lot of time spent trying to make sense of everything–trying to do whatever I could to not go into a dark place. But, after I posted the YouTube video, things really started to get better for me. Then, I felt for the first time after Tom passed away that something good might come from it. After posting that video, I heard from thousands of people from all over the world who encouraged and supported me–and that has really helped me be happier than I was before that. Now, I’m in a much better place. Of course, some days are still pretty hard. But overall, I’m grateful and in a much better place.

You were raised in Montana?

Yes, I was born and raised in Kalispell, Montana–in Northwest Montana–right next to a beautiful national park. I believe I was the fifth generation to live there.

And do you still live there?

No, after I graduated from high school, I moved to Los Angeles around 2004.

Did you come out in Montana?

No, I knew when I was very young that I was different somehow. I didn’t know that I was gay. I didn’t even know what gay was–and it was hard growing up there because I felt like people did not understand me. I was just kind of confused. The only memory I have about being gay was the movie “Philadelphia.” That’s the first time I was exposed to a movie about a gay couple. So growing up I lived with the idea that I would end up like Tom Hanks’ character and get sick, and eventually die because I knew that I was like him. I spent many years with anxiety and panic attacks because I was sure I was going to die of AIDS. So, it was a pretty traumatic childhood in that sense. But, for most of my life I knew one thing and that was I had to get out of Montana–and I knew that California was a place where people could go and be free to be who they were–and it helped me a lot throughout my childhood knowing there was a place I could go.

 So Montana wasn’t like BrokeBack Mountain?

No. But, when I saw that movie in L.A., it hit close to home–and what’s amazing now is how things have changed with television series like Glee and Modern Family and with gay characters on so many show–that I ‘m so happy about that–because kids are so influenced by movies and TV–and I think it helps them know that there really are characters on TV that are like them–and that they are okay.

 Could you talk about when and where you came out and how your parents reacted to the news?

I always thought that there was no reason to come out until I found the person I was going to spend my life with–and when I met Tom–and I knew he was the one–I felt like it was time. So, I told my mom during one of her visits–and she had always known–but, she didn’t want to believe it. But, she was very supportive and, once I told my mom, it seemed like everyone in the family knew–even though I had asked her not to say anything. But, I was glad it was finally out there and that I didn’t have to come out individually to the rest of my family members–and eventually, they all reached out to me to let me know they loved and supported me.

Do your parents still live in Montana? Are your parents religious and do they attend church?

Yes, my entire family lives there, except for my sister who lives in Texas. But overall, my family is very very conservative and very religious. My parents are no longer together. They were divorced–ironically, on the day I was born. But, considering our surroundings and where we lived in Montana, it did make me nervous about how they would react, because it is not accepted there. I didn’t know anyone who was gay. I had a feeling that my mom might accept me, but it was my dad’s reaction that I feared–and I just felt so lucky that he did support me.

Can you describe their experience in the community–and in their church? In general, were they supported after you came out?

Even though my family knew, in general it wasn’t talked about. It was only after some of the stories about me came out that people started to talk about it.

Where and what year did you graduate from high school–and what kind of plans did you have for your life after graduation?

I went to Flathead High School. For most of my life I knew I wanted to go to California–and managed to convince myself that I wanted to be an actor–partly because I needed a reason to move. So, after I graduated, I worked all summer, packed up my car and drove to L.A.

 What sort of things did you do there to earn a living?

When I was still in Montana, I attended International Performing Arts Camp, where I met a girl who became a really good friend. She had an uncle who lived in Los Angeles. So, I reached out to him and when I got there, he introduced me to one of his friends who worked for the show Entertainment Tonight and The Insider. So, I was very fortunate to get a job working on those shows as soon as I got there around the end of 2004.

 —After watching the two videos click on the link below and it will take you to “Where Can We Go From Here?” issue #2 to finish this very heart wrenching interview with Shane.


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