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Chicago’s LGBTQ neighborhood dropping ‘Boystown’ nickname

Chicago’s LGBTQ neighborhood is dropping its longtime nickname, “Boystown,” following a petition started by a local activist claiming the moniker lacks inclusivity and promotes bigotry.

“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,” said the petition, which was addressed to the Northalsted Business Alliance.

Last week, the alliance announced that it would no longer use the nickname in its marketing campaigns when referring to the neighborhood, which sits on the city’s North Side. Instead, it will revert to the name Northalsted.

“While a personal identifier cannot encompass the full diversity of our town, the name Northalsted, signifies the place, its entire community & history, inclusively,” the alliance said in a statement.

In a survey conducted by the alliance, which had nearly 8,000 respondents, 58 percent favored keeping the “Boystown” moniker, and 80 percent said they did not feel unwelcome by the nickname.

“While an overall majority neither were offended by the name nor want it changed, those identifying as Lesbian, Transgender, non-binary and queer largely do favor a name change,” the statement said. “To acknowledge and welcome all members of the LGBTQ+ community, the chamber will discontinue using the name Boystown in marketing and revert to the long standing name Northalsted.”

The Boystown nickname has been in use since the 1980s to represent what the alliance said has historically been a safe place for LGBTQ people. In 1997, then-Mayor Richard Daley officially recognized the neighborhood as a gay village, the first such designation in the country, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.