Petition Calls for Change in Name of Chicago's Boystown Neighborhood

Many in the community push for more open conversations

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A new petition from LGBTQ community members asks Boystown to change its name in efforts to become more gender-neutral.

With more than 600 signatures, the petition, created by local activist Devlyn Camp, calls on the Northalsted Business Alliance to change the nickname "Boystown," claiming it encourages systemic transphobia, racism and sexism.

"Many [in the transgender community] have experienced transphobia in the North Halsted area. Our LGBTQ siblings of color looking for inclusive bars have been met with racism," the petition read. "Many women frequenting and working in North Halsted businesses have been met with sexism."

The petition references neighborhoods such as Castro, Greenwich Village and West Hollywood, which are typically known as LGBTQ neighborhoods existing for all intersections of queer identity. Camp explained Chicago's Boystown is the only gendered nickname.

“I think we should have the conversations and ask our friends and neighbors what they think -- all races, all genders," a community member said. "Maybe we should have a name that is all inclusive.”

Some petitioners have said they are open to a new name dealing more with the location of the neighborhood, but this proposal has not taken hold yet.

Though the popularity of the petition has been on the rise, some in the community have not had the same experiences such as neighborhood resident Cole Nelson.

“No one‘s ever told me that they don’t feel included. They’re always excited to be here," Nelson said. "But as a white-cisgender-gay-male, I understand that I might not be the person to feel excluded in Boystown."

This summer, the neighborhood hung banners along the street that read Boystown is "for the boys," which pushed LGBTQ community members to fight for a more gender-neutral environment.

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