by Lisa Knych
Since the early 2000s, Berwyn has continued to become a more diversified community.
In reports from the 2000 to the 2010 Censuses, Berwyn has had a 41 percent increase in households reporting same-sex couples. It is also among the top five cities in the state with same-sex couples per 1,000 households, according to the Berwyn Development Corporation’s promotional web site, http://www.whyberwyn.com
Berwyn’s marketing campaign efforts have drawn these couples in throughout the years, according to BDC officials. Amy Crowther, the BDC’s director of chamber services, said the “marketing campaign focuses its efforts with outdoor advertising in high traffic areas of Chicago. Other campaign tactics include radio, digital, social media and outreach.”
Third ward Alderman Margaret Paul remembers the initial drive.
“That campaign began in approximately 2007,” she said. “It was called the ‘Why Berwyn’ campaign and it focused on showing people in Chicago how conveniently located Berwyn was to Chicagoland points of interest.”
The logos on the billboards used a “bull’s-eye” to indicate that Berwyn was in the center of airports, theaters and other attractions. One of the “bull’s-eye” billboards used rainbow-colored rings and highlighted Berwyn’s proximity to Chicago’s Boys’ Town, a popular gay neighborhood.
The city has participated on the WXRT float during the Gay Pride Parade for the past two years City officials also have helped sponsor the Northalsted Market Days for the past eight years.
The campaign closely followed important changes at city hall.
In the 1990s some city officials were not enthusiastic about gay rights. That led people to mobilize for gay rights.
“I was on the board of directors of the Berwyn United Neighborhood Gay and Lesbian Organization,” Paul said. “BUNGALO had been formed because an earlier administration had purposely dropped ‘sexual orientation’ from the first human rights ordinance that the city passed.”
BUNGALO has developed a reputation for civic involvement over the years. The members can be found on many local boards and volunteer committees. The group’s motto became “We too are Berwyn,” and they set out to include themselves in city issues and participate in the community of the city, Paul said.
By the late 2000s, things had changed, according to the BDC’s Crowther.
“In 2008, Berwyn added ‘sexual orientation’ to its newly adopted Human Rights Ordinance,” Crowther said. “And in 2012, the city passed a resolution supporting equal access to housing regardless of ‘sexual orientation or gender identity.’”
Because of Berwyn’s advertising and amended laws to make them a more inclusive community, it has recently been ranked third among top suburbs for same-sex couples, according to the whyberwyn.com site.