Public Harassment: In 2017, I was living in Boston…

In 2017, I was living in Boston and looking for a spiritual community. I decided to attend a mass. Boston is a walking city, most people walk, bike, or use the subway as their main source of transportation. It also has the most Universities per capita in North America. Since most folks in the city are students getting around on foot, it’s common to carry around your belongings in a backpack. I was walking to the service from the library where I had borrowed books I was carrying in my backpack. During mass, a White man sitting behind me took my backpack from me and told me he needed to make sure I wasn’t a terrorist. I was in shock. I had never been accused of something so terrible. I knew I needed to flee in order to stay safe. No one said or did anything to stop him or to help me. He took my backpack and dumped all of my belongings into the middle of the street outside of the front of the church.

On another occasion, I tried going to a different Catholic community just down the street. Upon walking in and attempting to introduce myself a woman told me to “go back to where I came from.” I didn’t feel safe, much less welcome, so I left and never returned. Both congregations claim to be inclusive and welcoming to all identities, but they do little to actually foster a welcoming environment for folks who are not Straight, Cisgender, and White.