A Sydney photographer is turning his collection of LGBTI portraits and stories into a live performance, where people from the community will take to the stage to share what the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras means to them.

Richard Hedger released his book Telling Tales earlier this year to coincide with the 40th anniversary of Mardi Gras.

Among the 40 portrait subjects are public figures such as artists, athletes and activists, as well as everyday heroes including lawyers and health care workers.

Actor, DJ and writer Faustina Agolley appears in the book, alongside retired High Court Justice Michael Kirby and many other familiar faces.

In Telling Tales, they share their thought and experiences, and reflections on what Mardi Gras means in their own lives—past, present and future.

Hedger raised the costs of publishing the book through crowdfunding.

Some of the Telling Tales stories will now be shared at a special live event in Sydney, with celebrity appearances and entertainment.

Telling Tales Live will be hosted by The Imperial Erskineville on Friday June 22, featuring a panel of speakers comprised of activists Steph Sands, Peter de Waal and Teresa Savage, and community health worker Teddy Cook.

The evening will be hosted by activist and prominent marriage equality campaigner Sally Rugg, and feature a special guest performance by Brendan de la Hay.

“As long as there are young, confused queer kids out there, Mardi Gras is a beacon leading them to a community that will stand by them in their individual development,” said de la Hay.

“In a prevailing political climate that sought to uphold discrimination against all [LGBTI] people by scandalising the lives and identities of these kids, to walk alongside them as they marched with pride, was indeed an honour,” said Rugg.

Tickets for Telling Tales Live are available online now.

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