Northalsted seeks community input on Boystown nickname

Wed. July 15, 2020 11:19 AM by News Staff

Opposing petitions reflect divided opinions in the debate over Boystown

The Northalsted Business Alliance has launched an online survey as it begins an outreach to businesses and the community-at-large seeking input on the use of “Boystown” to promote the entertainment district, which predominantly serves Chicago's LGBTQ community.

The announcement follows an online petition seeking that the Boystown nickname for the North Halsted neighborhood be changed to a term more inclusive of the entire LGBTQ community.

According to the petition created in June by activist Devlyn Camp, "North Halsted businesses and their board have tokenized people when it is convenient for their profits or image, while marketing their businesses to gay men only."

A second petition, dubbed "Keep Boystown!,” was created last week by Lakeview resident Blake Taylor. The opposing petition has also gained momentum, reflecting the divided opinions in the debate over the use of Boystown.

Related: The petitions on to rename Boystown or keep the Boystown name

In 1997, Boystown was officially recognized by the City of Chicago as an LGBTQ neighborhood, a first of its kind proclamation. The rainbow pylons / Legacy Project memorial now have Chicago landmark recognition and the rainbow crosswalks include transgender flag recognition.

In recent years, Northalsted Business Alliance has used Boystown in marketing and branding to promote the North Halsted corridor in Lakeview. The neighborhood chamber of commerce represents more than 100 businesses and hosts Chicago Pride Fest, Northalsted Market Days and the Haunted Halsted Halloween Parade.

Northalsted Business Alliance President Ramesh Ariyanayakam encourages participation in the survey.

“As culture and language change and develop over time, we must listen to the community to support inclusivity, this survey is a step towards gaining valuable insight. Our process focuses on active listening and engagement,” he said.

The online survey, available at, will be active for 60 days.