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Activists Demand Chicago’s Gay Neighborhood “Boystown” Name Be Changed To Be More Inclusive

A petition, created by local “queer” non-binary activist Devlyn Camp is demanding that the historic Chicago gay neighborhood of “Boystown” change it’s name claiming it perpetuates sexism and other discrimination in the neighborhood.

The petition posted on Change.org reads in part:

The Castro, Greenwich Village, West Hollywood, and many more. LGBTQ neighborhoods exist for all intersections of queer identity. Chicago’s is the only gendered nickname. Systemic transphobia, racism, and sexism have plagued our neighborhood for decades, and it begins at the top, with the all-male board of the Northalsted Business Alliance. It begins with the BOYSTOWN signs down our street announcing that this neighborhood is “for the boys,” though the signs hang above our diverse Legacy Walk of several LGBTQ icons in our history.”

(SNIP)

“Many of our transgender siblings must visit the Center on Halsted to utilize necessary resources. Many of them have experienced transphobia in the North Halsted area. Our LGBTQ siblings of color looking for inclusive bars have been met with racism. Many women frequenting and working in North Halsted businesses have been met with sexism. When police shut down the bars early after Pride in 2018, many on the Northalsted Business Alliance praised the police.”

Northalsted Business Alliance board said in a written statement that it had formed a committee to begin outreach to businesses and community members, with the goal of gaining “important perspective” on a possible name change.

“This process will likely take a few months, as we listen to the community feedback and engage in broad-based efforts beyond just a possible name change, but a commitment to learning how to ensure the neighborhood moves forward as an inclusive and welcoming neighborhood for all,” the statement said.

The boundaries of the neighborhood stretches from about 3100 to 3800 North Halsted. The unofficial designation of Boys Town as an area dates back 50 years to 1970’s The neighborhood has always been predominantly populated by gay men and lesbians.

At the time of this post 1300 people have signed the petition. But blowback by many who live and work in the neighborhood have been equally strong against the name change.

Do you think the name change of Boystown to something more inclusive is justified or is it really much ado about nothing?

Sound off in the comments below.

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Will Kohler

Will Kohler is one of America's best known LGBT historians, He is also a a accredited journalist and the owner of Back2Stonewall.com. A longtime gay activist Will fought on the front lines of the AIDS epidemic with ACT-UP and continues fighting today for LGBT acceptance and full equality. Will’s work has been referenced on such notable media venues as BBC News, CNN, MSNBC, The Washington Post, The Daily Wall Street Journal, Hollywood Reporter, and Raw Story. Back2Stonewall has been recently added to the Library of Congress' LGBTQ+ Studies Web Archive. Mr. Kohler is available for comment, interviews and lectures on LGBT History. Contact: Will@Back2Stonewall.com

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