Boston Memorial Service: Westboro Baptist Church Apparently Absent From Gathering

The events in my city of Boston on Monday April 15, make me want to curl up into a ball with a cat and a good book and shut out the world.  But that’s not a response worthy of the strength of this city, so instead, today, I went to form part of a living wall to block the reported presence of the Westboro Baptist Church at the memorial service at Boston’s cathedral. As far as I know, the cowards never showed up.

I saw no signs and heard no shouting. There were no angry words floating around. No one chanting that God hates fags and that the marathon bombs were payback for gay marriage. No one protesting or using their words to attack the psyches of the mourners. What I saw replacing the anticipated hatred were hundreds of people, Bostonians all, during this terrible week, dressed in black to honor the families and standing in quiet solidarity with the families who grieved for their dead and wounded. I saw dozens of police set to keep the peace, though no one came to threaten it, or the cool calm of the beautiful New England day.

There were other changes Thursday. There was a bit more wariness in the various T stations, more cops and dogs and a distinct lack of trash cans. But on the whole, people were kinder today than on other days. I saw more smiles and friendly faces. There were more people talking to each other and following each other’s leads, asking for help if lost and accepting it gracefully if offered. Bostonians may be known for their taciturn demeanor, but today everyone warmed a bit, like the change from winter to spring, and we stood, quietly, respectfully, mindful of being alive and able to offer our support.

Today, I saw solidarity. I saw patriotism, without nationalism. I saw people opening their hearts and minds and homes and shops in a triumph of generosity and kindness over this evil that, unprovoked, forced its way among us. To meet darkness with light, to meet hatred and destruction with peace, this takes the strength for which this city is known, and I saw that in abundance.

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Rebecca Gibson

Rebecca Gibson is graduating from Brandeis University with an MA in Women's and Gender Studies and Anthropology. Her major interests include LGBTQ rights, Victorian corsetry, osteology, archaeology, and marriage equality. She has taught, edited, and written for various university publications.

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