The Gay Preacher’s Wife: How My Gay Husband
Deconstructed My Life and Reconstructed My Faith
by Lydia Meredith
Simon & Schuster / Gallery Books. 244 pages, $16.
THE FLOWERS were a nice touch, greeting the author of this memoir one day when she got home from work, followed by a romantic dinner, candlelight conversation, and a quiet evening at home. They were all a gift from her husband, who often had surprises for her—not all of them such welcome ones.
Born into a large southern family, Lydia Meredith had “a strict Christian upbringing” that kept her somewhat sheltered until she went to college. Her first year at Vanderbilt, she says, was “a real culture shock,” in part because she’d had little experience with dating and none with sex. That changed at college, and so did Meredith herself. Gone was the scared little mouse, replaced by a confident young woman who landed a high-paying job, bought her own home, and dealt with racism in the workplace.
It was a good life, but Meredith was lonely, and she prayed to God for someone to love. And God responded, telling her that Dennis Meredith would be her husband. That was an odd notion, since Meredith had had little contact with her church’s youth pastor. He was a charismatic preacher, and she wasn’t sure she liked the way he spoke from the pulpit. She’d barely even acknowledged that he existed, but from then on, she says, “I could not take my … mind off this man.” Thus she was not surprised when Dennis asked her out.
And they kept dating, though their romance was not without its problems. Meredith realized that Dennis was not her type, and that she had hoped to “marry up,” not wanting to end up like the “miserable” preacher’s wife of her childhood church. Still, Meredith married Dennis, and things did get better—before they got worse. Shortly after their third son started school, Meredith began “to see some changes in Dennis … but I couldn’t put my finger on it.” He seemed preoccupied, and she blamed their harried life—until she found a gay porn video. Dennis admitted that he was bisexual, maybe even gay. He was sleeping with men—lots of them. Meredith began practicing “denial, suppression, and avoidance,” until she found she could no longer do so.
There’s a really good story inside The Gay Preacher’s Wife… somewhere. Meredith goes off topic so often that readers will need to be light on their toes to follow along. When she tells her story chronologically, it’s very good: Meredith can be outraged and outrageous, all in the same paragraph. But random, seemingly irrelevant items keep creeping into the story to ruin the mood, after which it takes a minute to get back into the spirit of what was going on. And there’s a lot of tiresome drama in this book. To the extent that you’re able to overlook these distractions, you might find yourself enjoying this memoir.
Terri Schlichenmeyer is a freelance writer based in Wisconsin.