Guest Post: Maire Hunter
As I was walking down North Halsted Street in Chicago's Boystown district not too long ago I stopped dead in my tracks when, for the first time in a long time, I noticed the colorful art deco pylon serving as part of the designation of Boystown as an all-inclusive zone of peace and understanding. As I finally started thinking of the implications of the existence and message of the neighborhood, Chicago pride began to take on additional nuances of meaning.
Boystown was originally an area where members of Chicago's GLBT community could feel safe and express themselves without fear of reproach but it has become much more than that. Walking the streets now you will see not only GLBT residents but also hipsters, poets and anyone else who values and seeks to nurture individual differences without repressing anyone else. The pillars are signs of welcome to anyone who wants to join in the community and experience love and acceptance without judgment or discomfort.
The neighborhood's identity as a gay haven hasn't been compromised--the Chicago Annual Pride Parade is still a prominent event in the community--but rather its reputation has been bolstered. Boystown can and should be looked upon as a beacon of hope and embracing love in our all-too-often bigoted, hateful society. While elsewhere people attempt to keep the GLBT community from having the same rights as other citizens, here the people are gracious and kind to one another, doing their duty as citizens and people without relying on tired dogma to tell them what to believe. It's my sincere hope that the message of Boystown continues to spread throughout the country and the pillars will one day be used as a reminder of the beginning of a worldwide community of love.
I guess what inspires me the most about the pillars are what they represent to not only to me but an entire community that it is a safe haven for so many.