Its true, Anthropologist Zachary Blair has been studying the Boystown neighborhood for the past three-and-a-half years! I can just picture the shovel and pick in his hands as he goes around the LGBT community looking for identity and change. This however is a different kind of dig. Zachary is focusing on how politics and the economy have shaped the social landscape of the neighborhood he is also looking at how social identities continue to shape experiences and perceptions of Boystown.
A Ph.D. candidate at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Zachary is trying to provide a holistic account of Boystown that documents and looks at the neighborhood's history, gentrification, and current situation. In laymen's terms, he's lookin at how the gay village has grown, and where it's growin.
Moving here in 2005, Zachary was amazed by Boystown when he first arrived. He had never seen any neighborhood like it. "Boystown is different from other queer neighborhoods in the United States and I think the unique story it has needs to be documented and told," To date, there has not been a published in-depth scientific study of the neighborhood.
"My study of Boystown is a community endeavor. This project would not exist if it weren't for the people who have embraced the project with their participation." Around 400 people have responded to an electronic survey and more than 50 people, including yours truly, have been interviewed.
Zachary is currently focusing his research on the history of the neighborhood, gentrification, and the development of queer space. He still needs people to interview who have lived in the neighborhood for the past 40 years, or who have witnessed the neighborhood's transformation into a queer neighborhood. If you are interested in participating in this study, e-mail Zachary at BoystownEthnography@gmail.com or call him at 407-341-7370.
Participants do not have to identify as LGBTQ and all participants will be kept completely anonymous through the use of pseudonyms in any future publications.
"When completed, I hope my study of Boystown will be a significant contribution to Chicago's LGBT community, Chicago history, and queer studies as a whole."