Chicago’s most famous LGBTQ+ neighborhood, long known as Boystown, will now have the more inclusive moniker of Northalsted, at least in official marketing materials and for purposes of city recognition.
The Northalsted Business Alliance, the chamber of commerce for the neighborhood centered on North Halsted Street, announced the change Wednesday. The business group did a survey in response to Chicagoans who objected to the gendered name as exclusionary.
This summer, for instance, activist Devlyn Camp created a Change.org petition calling on the alliance to change the name “to promote the inclusion of transgender, nonbinary, lesbian, and intersex individuals.” The petition noted that among the best-known LGBTQ+ neighborhoods in the U.S., only Chicago’s had a gendered nickname.
While there are other sections of Chicago with large queer presences, notably Andersonville, the North Halsted area is home to many bars and other businesses serving the LGBTQ+ population as well as nonprofits including the Center on Halsted, Chicago’s LGBTQ+ community center. It hosts a popular street festival, Northalsted Market Days, and is on the Pride parade route. It had been informally known as Boystown since the 1970s, and in 1997 Richard M. Daley, then Chicago’s mayor, issued a proclamation officially recognizing the name.
In the business group’s survey, 58 percent of respondents favored keeping the Boystown name, but leaders thought that was not enough to merit it, Chicago TV station WMAQ reports.
“Times change. We’re all about inclusivity here,” spokesperson Jen Gordon told the station. “We want people to feel welcome.”
Banners displaying the Boystown name will be taken down and replaced in the next few weeks, she said.