West Hollywood vs. Lakeview, Chicago: Will the Real 'Boystown' Please Stand Up?
There's a battle of the gayborhoods going down between West Hollywood and Lakeview, and we're all invited!
The territorial blog-off started when West Hollywood resident Larry Block proposed that the city officially designate the stretch of Santa Monica Boulevard between Robertson and La Cienega "Boystown."
But Tony Peregrin at RedEye Chicago calls the name "a brand that has long been associated with Chicago's Lakeview," and quotes a resident as calling Block's idea "pretty weak and quite cheesy."
Is there room in this gay-tion for the two of us?
If we're looking at who's queerest, Los Angeles boasts a bigger LGBT population than Chicago, so we do have a leg-up there. However, Lakeview already has the Wikipedia entry for "Boystown" staked and claimed -- even if the New York Times recently called West Hollywood "the country's closest approximation of a gay city."
But here's where the real problems with WeHo as Boystown begin.
Block more specifically wants to call the area Historic Boystown -- so as not to exclude a growing population of lesbians and other WeHo womenfolk from the mix. (Like, we just used to be gender-biased. It's history!) Because he knows that in staggeringly progressive West Hollywood, unlike middle America, a public label with any gender bias is guaranteed to be met with an onslaught of PC activists.
In her hyper-feminist March election piece "Deconstructing the Angry West Hollywood Election," WeHovian Karen Ocamb wrote that "many women have perceived the call to 'Take Back Boystown' as a slight against their very presence."
The city's solid camp of feminists were also angered, throughout the race, that all six non-incumbents were men.
And the Times piece, despite its "gayest city" proclamation, mostly focused on the gentrification, and hetero-fication, of West Hollywood. Mayor (and dictator-of-sorts for the last two decades) John Heilman essentially said that the city's interests have changed from 24/7 clubbin' to snuggly family time -- pretty much the opposite of a Boystown vibe.
What Heilman meant to say, of course, is that his interests have changed. Which is why he desperately needs the boot. But that's a story for another day.
Back to the area in question, a string of gay hangouts like Gym Bar, Fiesta Cantina and Micky's:
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"The day that Mickey's goes straight, the day that Rage goes straight, that'll be the end of Boystown," Block told West Hollywood Patch. "We need to protect Boystown while it's still here."
Post-election, both Heilman and City Councilman John Duran support the movement. From another Patch piece:
"A lot of really important things have happened in this area of town--whether it's the early marches of ACT UP or the city forming itself or Queer Nation or the dyke marches or all the other historical moments that have occurred here," [Duran] said at Monday's City Council meeting. "The Historic Boystown name would honor that."
Noting that the area has been known as Boystown since at least the 1970s, when he first started going there for the gay nightlife, Duran said, "This section of town is recognized around the world as a place where the LGBT community has sought refuge."
What do you think? Is Historic Boystown in the cards for WeHo, or should we leave it to Laketown?
In any case, you'll soon be able to purchase Boystown souvenirs like T-shirts and flip-flops in Block's Santa Monica Boulevard shop, aptly named Block Party. Because no matter how you gentrify West Hollywood, you can't take the boys out of the town.
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