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Gentrification Takes Its Toll on Nightlife in America’s Oldest Gay Neighborhood

Chicago’s Boystown is getting straighter — is the gayborhood losing its sparkle?

Boystown is arguably the most famous gay neighborhood in the world.

Established in the mid-20th century on the North Side of Chicago, it has long been an area LGBTQ people could call home, where they could meet others like them and grab a bite to eat in a place where they’d expect to be welcomed. It is the first government-designated gayborhood in the United States, and the Pride Parade attracts over 1 million people annually to its streets.

However, as this community continues to make great strides toward full equality in the United States — even under the Trump administration — the future for this neighborhood that was always a beacon of gay hope may be losing is sparkle. Rent prices are currently skyrocketing as more non-LGBTQ people move into the area to raise families; famous LGBTQ-owned bars and restaurants have begun closing to make way for straight-run establishments; and social services for those in need in the area have begun to disappear.

Each day it becomes more apparent that the gayborhood that so many of us spent time and found who we really are — myself included — may be becoming a place not meant for the LGBTQ community anymore. And many residents wondering: Well, then who?

Welcome to Boystown.

Zach Stafford is the editor-in-chief of INTO, the new digital LGBTQ magazine launched by the world’s largest gay app, Grindr.
Producers: Zach Stafford and Pelin Keskin
Director of photography: McGraw Wolfman
Camera: Nyle Emerson
Director of post-production: James Barry
Editor: Mike Horan
Sound mixer: Daniel Geneen
Social: Adam Moussa and Milly McGuinness
Consulting producers: Matt Buchanan, Patrick Bulger, Sonia Chopra, Meghan McCarron
Head of Development: Clifford Endo Gulibert
Executive producers: Maureen Giannone Fitzgerald and Amanda Kludt
Special thanks: Daniel Gerzina, Ashok Selvam, Furious Spoon, Replay, Hadeis Safi, Jennivee’s Bakery, Dulce Andrews, Kit Kat Lounge, Wood, Kylon Hooks, Jason Orne, Center on Halsted

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