Trestin Meacham is not a special individual. For the people who share his mindset, he is actually quite typical. He finds a singular way of expressing himself, and for that, he gets notoriety.
Because he typifies some of those holding key points of anti-gay frustration, he remains a point of interest for me and others. He is not alone. With an Oklahoma lawmaker calling gay people “human wrongs” and the government of Nigeria terrorizing its LGBT citizens, and dozens of idiotic ramblings from various lawmakers and clergy, Mr. Meacham’s point of view is more common than many of us are comfortable.
He crawled his way into public notoriety a few weeks ago when he declared that he would fast until the state of Utah declared “nullification” over a federal ruling on same sex marriage. The Supreme Court declared a temporary stay on additional marriages taking place in stead. At that point Trestin was hungry and he ate.
At the time, while I am sure Mr. Meacham saw himself as a latter day Gandhi or Caesar Chavez, I likened his behavior to that of my kids who refused to eat when they did not get their way. Many agreed. Like my kids, the first round of a tantrum even after it is pacified, is rarely the last. It often entails grandiose statements, exaggerated emotion and tears.
Mr. Meacham has followed the pattern.
In the case of my kids, my son Jesse lashes out at the object of the conflict, declares his forever intent and slams his fist down. “I HATE school! I am never going back there ever! And I am NEVER going to talk to <fill in the blank> again!” he will declare with absolute conviction, red-faced and tears streaming down his face. The tears always get me, it breaks my heart to see him cry, but I am also conflicted and try not to laugh at the perfectly executed high drama. So, I hug him and address him in a reasonable voice.
“OK, Pal. I know you are having hard feelings right now, and it is never OK to hate. Let’s just take a breath, calm down, and we can think it out a little later. Just know that I love you, and it is going to be OK.” With that, he crumples in my arms, and we let it go for a few hours before we can deal with the issue rationally. Which, we always do.
Like Jesse, Mr. Meacham followed his refusal to eat with a nasty little diatribe this week. He seemed to stamp his feet and took to his Facebook page with a new rant, “Let’s be clear about something, my mission, my purpose in life is to stand against the homosexual movement. Not to persecute or hate gay individuals, but to stand against and defeat the homosexual movement.
“I will never stop, as long as I draw breath. I will stand against them when they attack the churches. I will stand against them when they attack individuals. I will stand against them in my old age. I will stand against them in sickness and health. They can kill my body, but my spirit will never submit to their tyranny. I will expose their hate and rage. I will expose their persecution of religion. And I will expose their hidden plans. This secret combination has made a powerful foe. This is only the beginning!” I obviously could not observe Mr. Meacham in person, but I suspect there might have been loud pounding and tears as he typed.
In any case, here is my follow up response to Mr. Meacham:
Dear Mr. Meacham,
I am a bit mystified by your public outburst this week on Facebook. You are obviously outraged and it would appear , feeling that your recent hunger fast was a failure. At the time, I suggested that instead of implementing that kind of protest, that you would be better served joining my family, or one like mine, for dinner. I am going to assume you thought I was kidding.
I was not. While you claim to have “friends and relatives” that are gay, you do not seem to have ever sat down with them and their families and tried to understand them. I really think it would be beneficial for all if you knew exactly with what you were dealing.
You claim you are “standing against the homosexual movement” but not “persecuting or hating” gay individuals. Could you clarify the difference for me? As far as I can see, the “homosexual movement” is responsible for saving over a million people from an untimely death from the AIDS epidemic, it allowed gay people to make progress in being forced from their homes, fired from their jobs and be protected from targeted terrorism in the form of hate crimes. It has allowed gay people to fight for their country and for their loved ones to stand by them in dignity. It has supported responsible adults in loving, committing and forming strong families, including many that have saved thousands and thousands of children from foster care and isolation.
Are these the things that you are “standing against”? You seem to loathe the idea of hating individual people, but eager to hate this idea of a “movement”. Unfortunately, they are one and the same. By hating the protections that progress has afforded in the past few years, you are hating people, their loved ones and their families.
You are hating me. You are hating my kids. I understand you are upset, and I understand that you are afraid, but that does not make your sentiment OK.
You fear they will come after your church. No one is doing that. No one is going to do that. No one is coming after you. The worst you could say over the reaction to your threatening self-harm was that there were a great many people who were not particularly interested in saving you. You said you were willing to starve, and they were willing to let you.
No one in the vast, entire “homosexual movement” is looking to interfere with your individual life. Starve or gorge, the entire LGBT community is willing to leave you alone. They, we, just want you to do the same for us. If we step up to the profound responsibility of supporting and caring for our family, we want nothing from you but the respect to allow us to do so.
So, I leave you with the same suggestion that I did in my last note: if you care about this issue so passionately, you need to let go of your fears and assumptions, and go get to know some real people. Get to know the lesbian couple and the children they have brought into the world. Go get to know the gay dads who have rescued four kids from drug addicted abusive birth parents who would have killed them, go talk to the soldier whose partner stayed true and steadfast while the love of his life was across the world in mortal danger, go meet the artist, the athlete, the musician, the teacher, and go meet the couple who are dedicating their lives to each other and important careers who want nothing more than a secure home to return to each evening.
Those people, and those lives are what you are staring down, your fist held high, threatening to “defeat”. You like to think that what you are expressing is not “hate”. Right now, I am having trouble finding another word for it.
Whatever you decide to call it, is that really the thing you want to commit your life to? I hope not, for you more than anyone. If it is, yours will be a miserable life.