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Chicago North Side

Boystown retrospective: looking into the past to explore the culture and demographics of a future community

I am writing this as a more personal post than those I have written in the past. Excuse me if I am a little long-winded.

Before I write about the subject and context for my final story, I want to talk about why I want to write it. I have been living in Chicago for over two years now. I am on my third apartment, in Lakeview, specifically, Boystown- which I have called home over the past two years. I have been and will continue to be much involved in the LGBT community- and I have found that I care deeply about where the community is heading in the future. My coverage of the various developments along the Halsted corridor in Boystown (between Belmont and Grace) has only strengthened my relationship with the community.

That being said, I plan to write a kind of detailed overview of the development in Boystown- the new planned Out Hotel that I have covered over the past month or so, the new apartment building Halsted Flats, as well as the plethora of bars and proposed restaurants that are making for a complete revitalization of the area. Although that is a story within itself, my goal is to reach the most human aspect of these developments. Think along the terms of  For instance: Why do so many people attend these community meetings to voice their opinions on a new apartment building, both for and against? The answer is obvious. People care deeply about this neighborhood- both the LGBT persons that get their livelihood, their friendships, their family, from this neighborhood, as well as the scores of others that feel a connection to the community. In my past reporting, both for this particular class, and past classes, I have seen the passion and dedication the community leaders put into their words as well as their actions in regards to making Boystown a safe and welcoming environment.

Boystown-Chicago

One of Boystown’s eleven abstract pylons located along Halsted in Lakview commemorating LGBT commitment to the Boystown community. Photo courtesy of Chicagopride.com.

That being said- I plan to use local business owners- both those who have owned businesses for short span of time as well as those who have been in the community since its formation in the 1970s and 1980s, to paint a picture of a community which has withstood the scowls and scorns of the vast majority to arise as a premier community that Chicagoans are clamoring to raise their children in.  That, to me, is quite a feat. I also will be interviewing locals- from LGBT 20-somethings, to those with “2.5 kids”, to those who have lived in the area for years. I also will (again) try and get in touch with Alderman Tom Tunney as well as other local community leaders to beef up the story.

As for a news hook- I think that it is obvious- there is (as I mentioned in my second blog post) a renaissance coming to Boystown.  The multiple businesses that have constructions plans in the next year are monumental for the history of the north side LGBT community. Being able to digest, organize, and accurately portray the trials and tribulations of a changing niche community on the cusp of a great change is not only interesting, but for me, it is personal and close to my heart.

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