A POPULAR LGBTI storytelling event that had sold out shows in 2016 is returning with a line up of amazing talents for its launch next month.

Author Benjamin Law, disability and queer rights activist Jax Jacki Brown, activist and the mind behind ‘Pauline Pantsdown’ Simon Hunt, Dj Sveta and writer Liz Duck-Chong will take the stage to share stories as part of the launch of Queerstories on Friday, February 3.

Organiser Maeve Marsden said she was inspired to create the event by the stories she witnessed firsthand growing up with lesbian mothers.

“I wanted to create a stage where different members of my community could entertain, amuse or inspire audiences,” she told the Star Observer.

“Our community has always created our own histories, as we’ve often been excluded from mainstream history books. I think that, culturally, the queer community are great storytellers.”

Marsden said the reaction to Queerstories has been “so positive” with sold out events in 2016, and a heap of tickets already sold for the launch.

“I think people respond well to a queer event that brings together diverse segments of our community and an event that isn’t built around clubbing or nightlife appeals to a lot of people,” she said.

To choose the storytellers at the events, Marsden researches, asks for suggestions and accepts pitches from people who might want to perform. She also turns to LGBTI media to look for writers.

“I have a large spreadsheet,” she said.

“Generally I start with a couple of key people I want for an event and then build the line up around them. It can be a bit like ticking boxes, like, ‘ok I have a writer and a comedian already so I need some different professions in the mix’, or ‘I have four women, I better approach some dudes.

“Basically I choose people I think are interesting and people who can craft an interesting story. That’s the most important thing.”

She also makes sure the line up is as diverse as possible, as she believes all arts programming should reflect Australia’s diversity.

“Too often the quintessential Australian is presented as a young, white, able-bodied person,” she said.

“Even though the LGBTQI community subverts that a bit, we too can be guilty of keeping things a little too mainstream or conservative. I want to see stages full of the people you see walking down the street, people of colour, people of different genders, ages, cultural backgrounds, disabled people and so on.

“As a producer, programming with diversity in mind also ensures an entertaining evening as people hear stories from those who are different to them, and we experience various perspectives. As a young white women, it’d be easy for me to program a bunch of other young white women, and they’d all be very entertaining, but it’d get pretty dull and exclusionary pretty fast.”

Queerstories’ 2017 series will launch at the Redfern comedy venue Giant Dwarf on February 3. More events will be held on March 24, April 21 and a special edition Sydney Comedy Festival event on May 13.

For more information, visit its Facebook event page and to make bookings head to giantdwarf.com.au.

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