CHICAGO — Amanda and David Torrey, a Rogers Park couple, want to change the way people think about sex.
The sex activists plan to hold film screenings, host a health fair and put on a non-sexualized "touch event" at this spring's Kinky College, a BDSM symposium on all things kink, said Amanda Torrey, founder of nonprofit The Deviant Minds.
Under the name SexFest 2013, the collection of gender-related events will be held from April 5-14, if all goes as planned, Torrey said.
Sexfest "is about pulling together the community by pulling together our clinical institutions and businesses," the 60-year-old said.
She said she hoped to hold events in Rogers Park at the Leather Archives and Museum and host a health clinic at the Center on Halsted in Lakeview — all to raise awareness about sexual marginalization.
The wellness center at the University of Illinois at Chicago plans to present information on safe sex at the fair, she said.
The idea for SexFest grew when Amanda Torrey saw influential work being done at universities and other institutions related to gender equality. But she didn't think it reached people who should hear about it.
Putting all that work under one banner and showcasing it would help, she said.
The ideas of gender equality and acceptance of all sexual orientations, lifestyles and fetishes are the dominant themes for SexFest, she said.
"There are these ethical issues of who should be going to bed with who," she said, and SexFest will explore "why this is wrong and why this is dangerous."
The Torreys say the academic work being done will help people explore their own misconceptions about sex.
"It’s really about melding these disparate communities," said David Torrey, 58. "How do they want to interact ... with everybody beyond the ivory towers?"
For example, the "touch event" is for people who long for touch from another human being, he said.
"They get up on a massage table and they get touched by trained givers for 10 or 15 minutes — it's non-sexualized," he said.
The Torreys also are working to host a movie screening at the Leather Archives and Museum in Rogers Park and a screening of an Australian film, "The Scarlet Road," about sex workers who work with those with disabilities, at the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum on the Near West Side
The Torreys donated $1,000 to start the fest this year and hope to get more funding for SexFest 2014.
"This year we'll create the platforms," Amanda Torrey said. "Next year, hopefully, people will actually come to them."
"We’re going to be really kick-ass next year," she said.