TikTok Star Responds to Anti-LGBTQ Diners With 'Life-Changing' Campaign for Out Server, Youth

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Tuesday June 22, 2021

Meredith Steele
Meredith Steele  (Source:Screencap/Meredith Steele/TikTok)

Stingy restaurant patrons who left church tracts instead of tips for an out server sparked a "life-changing" TikTok campaign for the server — and also raised thousands for LGBTQ youth.

The campaign was the work of TikTok influencer and Maine resident Meredith Steele, local ABC affiliate WMTW reports.

Steele, who has more than 400,000 followers on TikTok, "has done a number of Venmo challenges with her followers over the past several months, inviting them to send her money via the Venmo app, which she and her husband then give away to strangers," the news story recounted.

Last holiday season, for instance, "she gifted wait staff up and down the coast with thousands of dollars."

Recently, Steele was inspired to issue a new challenge by a friend's story about a gay co-worker being stiffed by customers, presumably because of his sexual orientation.

"So, I've worked in restaurants for the last 15 years," Steele, who lives in Bath, Maine, shared in a post on the popular social media platform. "And my best friend just shared with me today that a coworker of hers who is openly gay was twice today tipped zero dollars and his zero dollar tip was accompanied by a church pamphlet."

@babiesofsteele

love is love is love is love is love ##pride ? original sound - Meredith Steele

"She invited followers to fill up her Venmo account so that together, they could give him a gift to try and make up for the lost money and hurt," WMTW detailed.

Steele's followers responded in force, prompting her to post an appreciative follow-up message.

"In less than 24 hours I raised so much more money than I ever could have humanly imagined," Steele exulted.

The sum she was able to relay to the server was not disclosed, but was "life-changing," per Steele's words.

"You have exceeded my expectations by thousands," Steele told her followers. "Like thousands of dollars more than I ever thought humanly possible could be contributed by strangers on the internet."

Steele also asked the server to contribute — to a summer camp ran by Equality Maine, an LGBTQ civil rights group.

Steele said the server responded, "This is awesome, this is definitely something I support."

But her followers also supported the idea — and they came through again, to the tune of $10,000, enough "for Equality Maine to send 40 LGBTQ kids to camp this summer," according to WMTW.

To see the WMTW news clip, follow this link.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.