Chicago LGBTQ Neighborhood Will Change Name From ‘Boystown’ Over Concerns The Name Isn’t Inclusive

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Marlo Safi Culture Reporter
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A LGBTQ neighborhood in Chicago will end the use of its name, “Boystown,” after complaints that the name wasn’t inclusive and was exclusively for gay white men, the Chicago Tribune reported.

The neighborhood will instead be called Northalsted, the Northalsted Business Alliance announced, after complaints that the 30-year-old name excludes women and gender nonbinary people, according to the Chicago Tribune

The Northalsted Business Alliance found in a survey that while 58% preferred keeping the Boystown name, 20% said they felt unwelcome because of it. The survey began after a petition calling for the name change that drew nearly 1,500 signatures. A rival petition in favor of keeping the name, which it says isn’t intended to be racist or sexist, has more than 2,300 signatures. (RELATED: Kroger Sued Over Alleged Religious Discrimination After Firing Employees Who Say They Refused To Wear Rainbow LGBTQ Symbol)

“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,” activist Devlyn Camp wrote in a petition. 

Camp told the Tribune in July, “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. “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.’”

The petition says that “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.’”

While the Northalsted Business Alliance reportedly can’t make the formal name change, it can remove banners and outdoor embellishments to signal the change.

Camp said that while the name change announcement is “progress,” Camp asks how the Northalsted Business Alliance will implement “systemic change that reflects this — specifically inside their own businesses?”