Winamac, Indiana, is pretty much how it sounds.
Small -- home to fewer than 2,500 people--rural, and it has more churches than libraries, schools and liquor stores.
About 20 minutes north is a similar town by the name of Knox. This is where Thomas Lee Bridegroom was born.
And just on the edge of Winamac -- between West Main and West Adams -- is a small cemetery by the name of Crown Hill. This is where he is buried.
He tripped and fell off of a roof while working. He was 29 years old.
In my 20-plus years as a journalist, I've written a lot about death. Thankfully, it hasn't gotten easier. The stories still touch me, although some more than others. Bridegroom's passing would be one of those.
"It wasn't easy going back there because it was the most difficult time in my life," Shane Britney Crone, Bridegroom's partner, told me on the phone. "But it helped me draw out the positives of who I am. Finally, for once, I am not afraid to stand up for what I believe in and I'm proud, not ashamed, of being gay.
"Hearing from people, thanking me for sharing our story, thanking me for reminding them how important marriage equality is ... it makes me feel like I've done the right thing by making the film."
The film he's referring to is aptly called "Bridegroom" and it chronicles the couple's relationship as well as the legal fallout stemming from their inability to get married. Fallout such as the hospital not giving Crone any details regarding the cause of death.
And being barred from the funeral.
"They told me that if I showed up Tom's father and uncle planned to attack me and knowing how his dad reacted when (Tom) came out, I had real concern for my safety," Crone said.
How did Tom's father react?
Well, according to Crone, he pointed a shotgun at his son before beating him up -- one of the more jaunting details revealed in the documentary. Bridegroom's parents have yet to publicly comment on the film and declined to participate in its making.
"A year later, I snuck into town by myself," Crone said. "I knew it was going to be very difficult and I just wanted to be alone and feel whatever it is I had to feel without someone else being there. I spent an hour there, crying, talking to Tom ... the hardest part was driving away ... in that moment it finally hit me that he was gone ... that all of this was real."
When I spoke with Crone, he mentioned he was nervous about sounding stupid in the interview. Little did he know it was I who was fighting back tears with each detail of their story that he shared. In the end, the only thing that sounded stupid was the notion that the love he and Bridegroom shared was inferior to anyone else's.
"Sadly, what happened to Shane after Tom's tragic death is not uncommon for couples without the protections that marriage equality brings to their relationships," said Brian Silva, Executive Director of Marriage Equality USA. "It is unconscionable that anyone already suffering the loss of someone they love, should be forced to go through this horror. This is just one reason why this fight must continue until every LGBT couple can live in safety and equality."
A fight in which New Jersey's Republican governor, Chris Christie, finally admitted defeat.
A fight Michigan's Republican governor, Rick Snyder, tries hard to avoid talking about, even as marriage equality heads to his state's court.
A fight that even spilled into the supposed gay- friendly streets of Springfield, Ill where Democrats -- not Republicans -- are in power and yet afraid to vote on a bill that would legalize same-sex marriages.
I joined the thousands who recently came to the state capital to offer encouragement/ pressure via a rally and march. All of which reminds us that homophobia and cowardice are not exclusive to a particular party.
I guess you can say we're all just a little tired of hearing stories like Bridegroom's and Crone's.
The two met in a bowling alley in L.A. back in 2005. Crone, who grew up in a town in Montana similar to Winamac and Knox, was 19. Bridegroom, 22.
At the time, they were both closeted though they would later learn that their meeting was not by chance -- a mutual friend set it up. What no one could predict was how quickly they would fall in love or how that love prompted them to come out to their families a short time later.
Crone's embraced him when he told them.
Bridegroom's clearly had the opposite reaction.