Boystown Crowd Floods Street & Dances On Cars

Gay pride gone wrong? Gay and Bisexual men in Boystown cause havoc in the name of hectic celebration.

Two dozen men took over Halsted Street in the Boystown area early Saturday morning (the first day of Pride Month). While dancing in the area may have been fine, they soon started to obstruct traffic and even climbed on some cars.

While one man began twerking on cars, another yelled out, “We f***ing s**t up!”

“We gone crazy. Say something to the camera bay!” yelled another partier.

Video surveillance of the event shows some drivers backing up their cars to avoid the crowd, and one man yelling at a driver. The CWB Chicago reports that police were notified around 2:57 a.m. That said, the crowd eventually dispersed upon the police’s arrival, which you can see in the final video below. No arrests were made.

Beyond this boisterousness moment, the atmosphere around Boystown has been heavy of late. Especially when it comes to conversations around pride and racism.

The popular Progress Bar was knee-deep in controversy last week after a leaked email revealed the owner’s intention to ban rap music from its establishment. Several community members took this as an attack on the business’s black and non-white customers.

The action “symbolizes that some people’s lives are valued above others in Boystown,” according to Jamie Frazier, the lead pastor at Lighthouse Church of Chicago.

The mostly Black and LGBTQ-inclusive church joined together with Affinity Community Services and the Chicago Black Gay Men’s Caucus to protest this bar and its recent ban.

“This rap ban is a master class in white privilege, because Justin [Romme], the owner of Progress Bar, executed this rap ban unilaterally,” Frazier told Book Club Chicago. “By banning rap music, […] the message he sent to the community is that not all lives matter, and so we have come here today to raise our voices and say that black lives do matter.”

The three organizations then held a rap music dance party near the bar at 3359 N. Halsted St. Toward the end of the party, hosted by drag queen Mikki Miraj, Frazier invited attendees to a community meeting to discuss this issue and similar ones on Wednesday, June 5 at 7 p.m. at the Lighthouse Church, 2335 N. Orchard St.

“There are a lot of folks who like the way things are in Boystown, so they trust that for you, […] Pride is just about walking through the streets,” Frazier said. “It is about that, but it’s also about more. This month in June can be an opportunity for Boystown to recapture Pride’s soul.”

But why does Progress Bar’s music matter so much to queer people of color in the area? They say it’s because Progress was one of the few Boystown bars that catered to black and brown LGBTQ folk.

Romme apologized in a Facebook post the day after the email leaked, announcing the ban would no longer be implemented and that the email “did not reflect the values of Progress Bar.” 

Unfortunately, this isn’t the only racially charged conflict happening in the area of late. Last week, the nearby Beatnix store, which also stands on Halsted street, dealt with protests and pushback after a black customer found a Confederate flag vest being sold at the store.

THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE! WE CANNOT LET THIS RACISM GO UNCHALLENGED! Nathaniel Dennis (the person who dealt with the…

Posted by Jamie Frazier on Tuesday, June 4, 2019

While some queer people of color are dancing in the streets and spotlighting how some parts of Pride have diverged into a hectic mess, others are honoring the work of Pride Mothers Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera by protesting inequality in their community. But no matter what type of march is being held, it seems that tensions in Chicago’s Boystown are rising.

What a way to start Pride Month in Chicago.

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