Diverse stories on stage as acclaimed event goes regional
NOT every LGBTQI+ story fits into a tunnel-vision view of gender and sexual diversity.
It’s the other stories – outside of tales of coming out, transitioning and getting married – that form the basis of the acclaimed Queerstories event.
The storytelling night originated in Sydney but Northern Rivers community group Queer Family, with funding support from Byron Shire Council, is bringing it to Mullumbimby in March.
Queer Family co-ordinator Aiden Gentle said research in the Byron Shire showed there was a gap in support for the queer and questioning, and for their allies.
Stories of isolation and ill mental health that was worse than the Australian average encouraged her to launch the group which provides safe platforms for LGBTQI+ people to connect.
The $5000 Queer Family received through the council’s community initiatives grants program last year will make a local Queerstories event possible, but will also support other initiatives.
“It’s a really great community night and I wanted the people in this region to experience that,” Aiden said.
“What is coming out of Queerstories is really great.
“A lot of the stories we’re expected to tell are about coming out, transitioning or getting married.
“But queer people also want to talk about crashing their cars, being rescued from cliff by helicopter, too.
“It’s these kind of stories that Queerstories is all about,” Aiden said.
“We’re complete humans. It’s not just about sexuality or gender.”
With mental health challenges and isolation a serious problem for many LGBTQI+ people, bringing the event to the Byron Shire meant bringing yet another opportunity for connection.
“Queer people have poorer mental health overall than the average Australian,” Aiden said.
“In regional and rural Australia, these figures are even higher.
“We feel isolation in regional areas in a way we don’t in the big cities.”
Queerstories isn’t only for queer people, and it will be recorded for the event’s podcast.
“It’s not only queer people that can enjoy queer identity and celebrate queer culture,” Aiden said.
Queerstories has seen more than 200 LGBTQI+ storytellers hit stages in Melbourne, Mudgee, Sydney, Shepparton, Adelaide, Albury and more over the past four years.
Director Maeve Marsden said she was thrilled to bring the event to Mullumbimby.
It has travelled to Lismore in the past.
“The premise of Queerstories is simple: we invite a range of LGBTQI+ people to share a personal story, but the focus is on the unexpected, on the stories people want to tell instead of those often expected of queer people,” Maeve said.
“The stories and narrative styles of the performers are always so diverse.”
Northern Rivers speakers will be prominent at the event, with Bundjalung artist Ella Bancroft, Shedding creator Sophie Wilksch, Melody Edwards of Fossil Farms and Mullum Community Gardens, Radio Presenter Peter Lehner, Drag Performer Huey Acuna aka Ru Bella, and Writer Ash Watson on the program.
Queerstories will have a community BBQ before the show to help raise funds for future Queer Family events and for folks to come and socialise with their com
Queerstories will be at Mullumbimby Drill Hall Theatre from 7.30-9.30pm on Saturday, March 14.
A barbecue to raise funds for Queer Family will be held at the hall from 6.30pm.
Tickets $22 concession, $25 adults.