As some may know from reading my writings, I am a big advocate for communication and compromise. I believe the problems that affect Boystown, from violent stabbings to homelessness to youth prostitution, will only be alleviated through joint action by the residents, the bar patrons and the queer youth. I feel groups like the most fervent of the Take Back Boystown posters and Gender Just serve to move us further from achieving actual positive social change. It is always much easier to dismiss the perspective of your adversary than it is to actually listen. And it is in listening that we achieve understanding, which is the foundation of any progress toward community and equality.
So here are some actual solutions that I think can help reduce what the Take Back Boystown people refer to as violent crime (stabbings and muggings) while also empowering queer youth by involving them more in the community and thereby reducing what they define as violent crime (abuse, prostitution, etc.).
- Pink Angels and Angels In Training – Let’s bring back the Pink Angels, if only for a temporary basis. All Pink Angels should undergo proper training in order to be considered qualified. Pink Angels must be at least 21 in case they need to access the interior of a bar for patrol purposes. However, each squad of Pink Angels should include an “Angel in Training.” An Angel in Training will be a representative from the queer youth community who is under 21. They will assist with patrolling and undergo some form of training as well. The hope is that in addition to patrolling the streets, these groups will develop a certain camaraderie and mutual understanding, thereby helping to bridge the racial/age/class gap within the community. It will also give youth something positive and empowering to do at night.
- A Monthly COH Dance – Granted the COH will open its doors once a month for this purpose (and if not, perhaps another entity will step up to the plate), I propose a monthly late-night dance for queer youth that is staffed by Boystown residents and bar patrons. The youth of course via representatives will lead the charge to develop the dance, but the residents and bar patrons will serve as chaperones and general helpers. Perhaps a local business can sponsor and donate food and non-alcoholic beverages. This will give the youth something actually fun to do at least once a month (I’d like it to be more frequent, but it’s good to start realistically), while also serving as a sign that the residential and bar community do care about these often overlooked members of the greater GLBT community.
- A Community Hotline for Those Who Feel Wronged by Police – Yes, I know there is already a police-led service for citizens to file complaints against the police. But as it has been established, cops don’t necessarily treat the GLBT (youth and adults) fairly. So solely relying on a broken system to audit a broken system doesn’t instill a lot of confidence. I say we establish a volunteer network of community members who can field calls from GLBT citizens who have felt they have been mistreated by the police. These concerns can be made public via the Web, which may put the heat on the cops to actually investigate the alleged incident. We as a community can then, in essence, audit their auditors. This will allow residents to get the increased policing they request while also providing a system of checks and balances for the greater GLBT community who may be wary of police prejudice.