Jun 24, 2022 - Things to Do

Best Day Ever: Jim Bennett, Dept. of Human Rights chief

Two guys in a parade

Jim Bennett (center) marching in a recent Pride parade. Photo courtesy of Jim Bennett

Pride weekend always brings out political bigwigs, but few have done as much for the community as Jim Bennett, director of the Illinois Department of Human Rights since 2018.

  • As Midwest director for Lambda Legal in 2015, he helped pass same-sex marriage in Illinois.

What he's saying: "2015 was the best Pride Parade ever," Bennett tells Axios.

  • "Drag queens were dressed like Supreme Court justices, and people were coming up to our float crying because they were so happy they could get married."

The intrigue: A 2013 inductee into the Chicago LGBT Hall of Fame, Bennett also shines on the comedy scene as a member of hilarious sketch group GayCo.

  • The renaissance man took time out of his busy schedule to give us his Best Day Ever:

☕ Breakfast: "I like to go to Rewired. It's got a nice outdoor patio, and you can bring your dog. And it's always filled with gays. Coffee and avocado toast for a quick, healthy breakfast, although I almost always end up getting a pastry as I walk out."

🚵 Morning activity: "Nothing beats a bike ride on the lakefront. I love the new AIDS Garden Chicago featuring a giant, Keith Haring-inspired sculpture."

🍽️ Lunch: "I would go to Tweet. It's part of Big Chicks in Uptown. Owner Michelle Fire is the original big chick, and the art of big women that she's collected should be in a museum."

🖼 Afternoon activity: "I like to go to the Gallery Victor in River North to check out their art. Victor Armendariz has an eclectic group of artists, and the exhibits are always changing — and you get free wine."

The Hopleaf patio is a great place for outdoor dining. Photo courtesy of Hopleaf

🍔 Dinner: "Hopleaf. It's all about outdoor patios for me. The food is fancier than it should be for Hopleaf, but it's so great."

🪄 Evening activity: "The Chicago Magic Lounge! It's the best — you can go in and have amazing cocktails with magicians doing magic at your tables and stay for the main show, which is extraordinary. This is a hidden Chicago treasure!"


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