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Chicago’s ‘Boystown’ LGBTQ neighborhood to change its name to be more inclusive

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Chicago will end the use of the name “Boystown” in marketing after complaints it created the impression that the LGBTQ district was exclusively “for the boys.”

The neighborhood will instead be billed as Northalsted, the Northalsted Business Alliance said last week, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Activist Devlyn Camp wrote in a petition that the old name reinforced an impression that trendy LGBTQ neighborhoods are specifically intended for white gay men.

“Many of our transgender siblings … 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,” they wrote.

“I’ve worked in the neighborhood for years, and I’ve seen firsthand how people are treated in the North Halsted area, particularly transgender people of color, particularly women,” Camp told the Tribune in July. “I’ve been out with friends who are lesbians, and they’ve been told by gay men in the bars, ‘Why are you here? This isn’t your neighborhood.’”

Northalsted Business Alliance spokesperson Jen Gordon said the organization conducted polling on whether the community found the name exclusive. Although a majority, 58 percent, were in favor of keeping the name, she said the 20 percent who found it unwelcoming was too significant a minority to dismiss outright.

“If [the name] was making even a small percentage of people feel uncomfortable, it’s not something we should be using to promote the neighborhood,” she said.

Camp hailed the decision as “progress.”

“I think it’s fantastic that they’re acknowledging the need for change,” they said. “My question now is, how will the Northalsted Business Alliance continue to implement systemic change that reflects this — specifically inside their own businesses?” 

Tags Chicago LGBT LGBT culture in Chicago

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