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Queer advocacy group says youth being "scapegoated" for Boystown crime

Young black man claims officer told him to go back to the south side

Chicago, IL — A new video by a queer rights advocacy group, asserts that youth, particularly young people of color, are being "scapegoated" for the recent increase of reported crimes in Boystown. 

Video Action League says that homeless gay youth have been unfairly blamed for the "purported increase in crime" and that they wanted to give youth a space to "express themselves without the threat of being silenced."

"All the youth that hang around here are getting blamed for it," 24-year-old Cat, a lesbian who is homeless, said of the increased crime in Boystown.

"Our Youth Belong In Boystown," which was posted to YouTube on July 12, 2011, includes interviews with Cat and two African-American men, who have also been shunned by their family and community after coming out gay. 

"When people constantly call the police on me and harass me, it makes me feel less than a person," said Tyrone Strickland, who has been staying in Boystown since leaving his South Side neighborhood when he was 15 years-old.

According to statistics provide by VAL, 26% of gay youth who come out to their families are kicked out of their homes. 

The trio also shared their experiences since the community uproar over a violent mob attack was caught on tape in the North Side neighborhood, which is the hub for Chicago's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

Joloni Lane, from south-suburban Country Club Hills, claimed two Chicago police officers told him and a friend, "...go back to the south side, where you belong."

Each of those interviewed agreed that additional safe spaces for gay youth are needed citywide. They also expressed appreciation and gratitude for programs already in place at Center on Halsted and Broadway Youth Center

"All I want to do is just be a part of something bigger than me, something better than myself," said Strickland.

VAL says homeless queer youth is an issue that should be widely addressed.

"It's so important that we advocate for safe spaces for youth that aren't 21 so they have a community they can go to," Lindsey Dietzler, co-founder of the Video Action League, said at the end of the 7 minute video. 

I agree... its sad but it happens and glad people are talking about it.
Posted by BlackeVelvet on Sun, 7/17/2011 9:51 AM
I totally agree!
Posted by Suzen X Riley on Sun, 7/17/2011 10:04 AM
It is what it is! The video clearly shows NO "white" people...
Posted by Logan7 on Sun, 7/17/2011 11:13 AM
I'm glad they put the video up.
Posted by Robert MacNeill on Sun, 7/17/2011 11:37 AM
Why dont these kids just go home and start their own gay youth services in their neighboorhood? There is no place for gay youth in btwon after 10pm, its all bars for people 21 and up. They can come to btoen shop and eat during day time, other then that, they dont need to be on the street. They need to be safe, or join the military. Gays can openly serve and a job!
Posted by James748 on Sun, 7/17/2011 11:43 AM
Sorry to burst your bubble but DADT is still in effect.
Posted by Rachel Tuszynski on Sun, 7/17/2011 12:57 PM
"According to VAL 26% of Gay Youth who come out to their families are kicked out of their homes." I am very curious as to how this statistic was realized as it is definitely not accurate across the board of all Gay Youth.
Posted by PaulBlackburn on Sun, 7/17/2011 5:08 PM
\u0040James: I don't see what age has to do with it. Haven't all these attacks of late involved folks well in their twenties?
Posted by DJDB on Sun, 7/17/2011 6:24 PM
Aren't we a centralized gay community for a reason? Do we want the gays in Evanston or in Naperville to not come to Boystown, but instead have their own bars there? The overwhelming majority of the people coming to Boystown come to be themselves because they can't do so in their own neighborhoods, to varying degrees of safety. If someone opened a gay bar or club or center in an unsafe neighborhood, it wouldn't last long because of intolerance. Hence, our safety in numbers here in Lakeview. Unfortunately, there is a disproportionate degree of anger and violence in the communities where the attackers come from, so we deal with the 1\u0025 of that population. Personally, I wish we'd focus on the much more prolific drug, alcohol and unsafe sex abuse in the gay community, but it's easier to point at a spot in the crowd than it is to point at a crowd.
Posted by DJDB on Sun, 7/17/2011 6:35 PM
I am a 28 year old GAY man and I love Boystown and I love living in boystown. Yes, the violence needs to stop and the hate needs to go away. Is it the youth? Is it the blacks? Is it just hateful people with nothing better to do?
I believe that it’s a combination of it all but; I do still believe that Boystown is a place for everyone. When I moved to Boystown I was 22 and it was the best thing I ever did for myself.
The toughest years of most peoples life is between the age of 18 and 21 b/c you almost legal or are legal, to vote, to die for our country, and smoke your life away. However you can’t drink which means in Chicago, you can’t get into the gay bars. I believe that is what we need to work on. Gay youth need some where to go between the hours of 10pm and 2am. Most young adults are already moved out at that age. I know I was moved out at 18 years old. Meaning they do not have curfews and need something to do.
I truly believe as still a young gay man that we have a responsibility to our youth and making sure they are safe and grow up with knowledge to be better then they are. It’s a new time for us all as most of us didn’t come out till well into our 20 or still 30th for others and of course some still do not have the courage to tell their family. However, our youth are being proud at a younger age and I for one am glad they are doing this. But, it’s tougher for them b/c they are young and their parents do not understand. We have to be there to help them in anyway we can.
I believe it’s the responsibility of the community to make sure its community members are thriving and doing all we can do.
I do not have all the answers of course but what I do know is pointing finger will not work and shipping them out is no better then what our family our place of birth did to us. Let’s open the arms as gay men and woman have always done for their own kind.
Posted by Gregory on Mon, 7/18/2011 11:44 AM
That is so true!
Posted by Suzen X Riley on Mon, 7/18/2011 12:46 PM
Type your comment here...
Posted by ChicagoJoe on Mon, 7/25/2011 5:43 PM
Personally, I don't feel it's my responsibility to be a substitute parent or Social Worker for youth with no where else to hang out or nothing to do. With agencies such as the Center on Halsted or the Broadway Youth Center, they should be going out of their way to teach these kids how to act in public instead of being so obnoxious. Yes, Boystown is and entertainment venue with lots of bars, restaurants, etc., but people like me live here, this is our home and we'd like to feel safe, without having to watch over our shoulder.
Posted by ChicagoJoe on Tue, 7/26/2011 7:06 PM
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