The whiteness of gay urban belonging: criminalizing LGBTQ youth of color in queer spaces of care

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Chicago’s gay village of Boystown has long been linked with whiteness, and in the past decade, tensions have flared between neighborhood residents and queer and transgender (trans) youth of color, often homeless, who come to Boystown for the many services provided by its lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) nonprofit organizations, or queer spaces of care. While scholars have attended to community policing in Boystown through the Take Back Boystown movement, the role of LGBTQ nonprofits has yet to be examined in their role of criminalizing queer and trans youth of color in the neighborhood. Through an autoethnographic approach, this paper explores how several nonprofit organizations in Boystown have adopted policing strategies toward the queer and trans youth of color they serve. I argue that community policing has infiltrated these organizations to further defend and maintain an exclusive gay urban space informed by whiteness, which marks and regulates young, Black masculinities and trans femininities as deviant, untrustworthy, and criminal. Racism diminishes the ability for queer spaces of care to fulfill their mandates of supporting queer and trans youth of color, rendering the neighborhood a space of surveillance and furthering a White gay urban belonging that alienates and criminalizes these youth.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)137-148
JournalUrban Geography
Issue number1
Early online date29 Sep 2016
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2017


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