There’s more to being queer than coming out and getting married. As the media landscape evolves, we’re seeing more and more queer stories on our screens. But are they ours?
That’s the question that’s being asked by stage production Queerstories, returning to Queensland next month as part of this year’s 10th anniversary Brisbane Comedy Festival.
Queerstories is the brainchild of Maeve Marsden, who curates and produces the popular monthly events in Sydney and Melbourne.
She says it all began in Sydney almost two years ago as part of a small, one-off program for libraries in Sydney.
“It was a simple premise of six LGBTIQ people each sharing a 10 minute story, and really quickly we received a great response,” she said.
“People were very keen on it, and so I started to turn it into these larger-scale ticketed events at the start of 2017. Now there’s a podcast, there’s a book, it’s run away with itself.
“I think it’s because LGBTIQ people are desperate to hear our own stories, to celebrate our lives and experiences.”
The initial catalyst for the event was celebrating the complexity of the LGBTQI+ experience.
“I tell the performers that they don’t need to talk about their sexuality or their identities,” she said.
“I don’t want them to become lectures on the queer experience, they’re meant to be entertainment first and foremost.
“The idea is our community’s stories haven’t always been centre stage. We’ve often had to hide or been censored by wider society due to homophobia or transphobia.”
Queerstories talks around the country are also regularly recorded and released as episodes of the popular podcast series of the same name, which now features over one hundred stories from a who’s who of Australian queer entertainers.
Last year a collection of the Queerstories talks were published as a book, compiling hilarious and heartwarming anecdotes of adolescence, self-discovery, family acceptance and more into a single volume.
Marsden says she encourages all of her Queerstories contributors to tell stories that are outside the norm and ones that aren’t necessarily for the heterosexual gaze.
“It’s about queer people telling whatever story they want, and not in a space that they have to explain things to straight people,” she said.
“I tell them that they’re not having to educate here, it’s by and for our community.
“I find that sometimes it can take a bit of retraining for us to not see ourselves as advocates and allow our politics to just be inherent to the stories that we tell.”
Among the speakers on the lineup for the Brisbane evening of Queerstories are Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras telecast host Faustina “Fuzzy” Agolley, drag performer Charity Werk, and Queensland comedian Sam Bowden, as well as the musical stylings of Marsden’s cabaret act Lady Sings It Better.
“The evening will be a taster of the queer comedians who will be performing at the festival. I try and keep the stories and speakers really diverse,” Marsden said.
“Obviously, as we’ll be in Brisbane as part of the Comedy Festival the stories are going to skew towards comedy, but some of the speakers might end up telling a story that’s a little darker or more serious.”
The 2019 Brisbane Comedy Festival is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, and will runs from February 22 until March 24 at the Brisbane Powerhouse.
As well as Queerstories, other queer comics on the lineup include Rhys Nicholson, DeAnne Smith, Tom Ballard, Charity Werk and Demi Lardner.
Queerstories is at the Brisbane Powerhouse on March 9, as part of the Brisbane Comedy Festival. The event is Auslan Interpreted. For tickets and the full Brisbane Comedy Festival lineup visit the Brisbane Powerhouse website.