A. I definitely struggled with being gay in high school. It wasn't just the fear and rejection from my peers. There were parents and faculty who treated me differently because I was gay. I wasn't even openly gay. People just suspected it. So it's hard. I'm just fortunate that I didn't give up, as many times as I wanted to. Had I given up, I wouldn't have met Tom. That's one very important message I want to share: For those teens in these small towns, don't give up.
Q. "Bridegroom," by the way, is such a potent name for the film on so many levels.
A. I never thought about it other than, this is an interesting last name. It wasn't until I sat with Linda, and she was like, "You realize his last name is 'Bridegroom.'" She said it's clear to her that Tom is standing in for something even larger than himself.
Q. So even in the short time since his death, a lot has changed in society. How do you feel about the changes?
A. When I posted the YouTube video on the anniversary of his accident, on May 7, 2012, it was just a few days later that President Obama came out to support marriage equality. That was a moment that just felt really good. It just seems like the progress is happening really fast. I'm so grateful. But it's still up to each state. A lot of work has to be done. I hope this film is like a tool people can use.
Q. Are you getting comfortable with a spokesman's role?
A. It's not always easy. There's so much support and love sent my way. But I also hear daily from people that tell me to kill myself, that I should be murdered. A lot of that stuff really bothered me at first. Now I try not to even read that stuff. I do know there's a lot more love out there than hate.
Q. Do you still keep a video diary? And do you think driving and filming yourself sets a good example for the kids?
A. No. (Laughs.) I don't think that anyone should film themselves driving. Those moments of me just singing in my car and filming myself, I look back: Why was I filming that? It kind of makes me think sometimes that everything happens for a reason. Is there a reason Tom and I filmed so much footage together? Is there a reason why I filmed these videos in high school that I never thought would see the light of day?
Q. How are you doing now?
A. I am in a much better place than I used to be. To be honest, it wasn't until I posted the YouTube video that I started kind of feeling better. You know, losing Tom really made me question a lot of things about life in general. I just was trying to make sense of what happened. I realized this isn't going to make sense. So for me, posting the YouTube video and seeing that it was helping people, it made me feel like, OK, maybe something good can come from this. I'm just so grateful for all the positive things that have happened.
Q. This is a tragic story, but there are some very uplifting moments as well: — literally coming out of the closet to surprise your dad, for instance.
A. When I brought Tom home to Montana to meet my family, I don't know what we were thinking by hiding in the closet at my dad's house to step out and surprise him. I think that's one thing people are surprised by when they see the film: There is humor in it. There were a lot of fun times and good memories we had.
Q. I literally laughed out loud, when your great-grandmother Pat said, "That's right. They're Romeo and Romeo. Get over it."
A. I mean, my grandma Pat's like 92 years old. Who would ever think she would have accepted our relationship? But she did. For her to see it so clearly and understand it is remarkable.