Gay. Art Deco. Disney.
For years, I have wanted to write an article about the relationship between Gayness, Art Deco, and Disney. While there are a few connections I have discovered, they never fully solidified and my research has always led me to various dead ends. However, apparently I'm not the only one who has thought somewhere along these lines (read this). Think about Miami's South Beach, The Tower of Terror, Grauman's Chinese Theatre, apparently Tulsa, Oklahoma, and of course, Boystown.
Geographers and social scientists like Sharon Zukin and Alan Bryman have discussed Disneyization (or Disneyfication) extensively. Bryman defines Disneyization as "a process by which the principles of the Disney theme parks dominate more and more sextors of society" (see here). When discussing urban development, the terms are used to describe transformations of built space that resemble the theme parks of Walt Disney. Usually this means stripping a place of its original character and creating a sanitized version of it. In the case of Boystown, this is like turning North Halsted Street into something more similar to the Magic Kingdom's Main Street (or Tomorrowland - as shown above).
Moving from Orlando to Chicago, Boystown's rainbow pylons first got me thinking about the relationship between gayness, Art Deco, and Disney. I found a few interesting academic articles, but nothing really substantial that explores this relationship (for example, see here about gay men leading Art Deco revivals as a trend in the 1970s). While I think the major connecting factor is the overlapping idea of modernity, I haven't been able to formulate anything meaningful just yet.
Perhaps this is something I'll continue to tackle once I've finished this dissertation.