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Queerstories: Reflections on lives well lived from some of Australia's finest LGBTQIA+ writers

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There's more to being queer than coming out and getting married. This exciting and contemporary collection contains stories that are as diverse as the LGBTQIA+ community from which they're drawn.

From hilarious anecdotes of an awkward adolescence, to heartwarming stories of family acceptance and self-discovery, the LGBTQIA+ community has been sharing stories for centuries, creating their own histories, disrupting and reinventing conventional ideas about narrative, family, love and community.

Curated from the hugely popular Queerstories storytelling event this important collection features stories from Benjamin Law, Jen Cloher, Nayuka Gorrie, Peter Polites, Candy Royalle, Rebecca Shaw, Simon 'Pauline Pantsdown' Hunt, Steven Lindsay Ross, Amy Coopes, Paul van Reyk, Mama Alto, Liz Duck-Chong, Maxine Kauter, David Cunningham, Peter Taggart, Ben McLeay, Jax Jacki Brown, Ginger Valentine, Candy Bowers, Simon Copland, Kelly Azizi, Nic Holas, Quinn Eades, Vicki Melson, Tim Bishop and Maeve Marsden.

272 pages, Kindle Edition

First published August 28, 2018

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5 stars
94 (46%)
4 stars
81 (39%)
3 stars
24 (11%)
2 stars
4 (1%)
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1 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 29 of 29 reviews
Profile Image for Rose.
42 reviews10 followers
July 13, 2019
A lot of the queer media that gets produced is American, and there's nothing wrong with that, but it means that when something like this comes along, speaking in a language and talking of settings that ring in my heart as home, as Australian, it's special.
Every story had me reacting differently. Some broke my heart, others pierced the veil of ringing too true to my experience, some had me barking with unexpected laughter, and some had me angry. But all of them left me filling full.
Queer isn't a bad word, despite what many think. These stories are so beautifully written, and brought me peace and familiarity. I whole heartedly recommend anyone and everyone read it, to get an insight into the Australian queer experience, guided by some of the best writers on this dusty rust brown continent.
Profile Image for Jordi.
Author 2 books4 followers
August 31, 2018
Queerstories is political and pivotal. The collection of personal stories, like its unifying theme of 'queer', resists easy categorisation, but offers a much-needed space for community, camaraderie and allyship.

Full review (paywalled) at Books+Publishing:
Profile Image for Highlyeccentric.
780 reviews42 followers
February 1, 2020
Bought this in a fit of Queer Angst, and it definitely helped with that. The oral style from the storytelling nights / podcast comes through particularly well in many of the pieces - David Cunningham's 'Anatomy of a fuck buddy', which began life as this show slot / podcast segment was a particular highlight.

Vicki Melson's piece on youth, sex, promiscuity, the punk scene, cancer, and masectomy will stick with me for a while.

Overall, though, I didn't feel like this collection had quite the depth or cohesiveness (or diversity) of Ben Law's 'Growing Up Queer In Australia'. Except for the diversity lack (and there *are* ethnic and racial minority authors in here, and at least one disabled author, and some diversity of age although not as much as one might hope, but it doesn't feel as well-thought-through as Law's collection in this regard), that's... maybe okay. We can have a range of queer anthologies, these days!
Profile Image for Anna.
62 reviews2 followers
December 21, 2018
I devoured this in a day. It’s hilarious, relatable, nuanced, heartbreaking and insightful. I see myself and my community in these pages, and I took away so much to think about — this is an important collection for the Australian queer community. GO READ THIS.
133 reviews1 follower
November 28, 2021
An absolutely beautiful and world expanding collection of stories that really showcase the depth and plurality of stories within the queer community. No two the same in plot, no two alike in tone. A perfectly curated book.
302 reviews6 followers
November 5, 2018
Queerstories is a popular event where Australia’s best LGBTQI+ writers gather for some good, old-fashioned storytelling. The show began at the Late Night Library in Kings Cross, Sydney and has gone on to tour other states and towns. It makes sense that, because this all began in a library that people should be able to “buy the book.” And now you can, Queerstories is an anthology drawing together twenty-six diverse stories in one handy collection.

Maeve Marsden is the mastermind behind Queerstories; she created the event, and now curates and produces the show. These stories were all once told aloud and now this oral history has been written down and captured. Marsden also edits this collection and contributes one of the stories here. This writer, director, producer and performer draws upon some of her experiences from Gayby, where she described being raised by lesbians. As a queer woman, she encourages her contributors to tell stories outside the norm and ones that are not for the heterosexual gaze. She says that the stories don’t have to be about coming out or marriage equality, because these are the ones we so often see the media cover.

Benjamin Law is the exception to the rule here with his piece about coming out. It’s interesting to read about culture’s impact on experience, because Law told his grandmother years after he’d been out to his family and friends. In some ways, there were parallels between Law’s story and some of the anecdotes that Hannah Gadsby told in Nanette. The stories here are impossible to categorise into one neat, little box. The one common thread is that there are aspects in all of them that every reader should understand or relate to.

The late Candy Royale shares a personal story about returning to Lebanon, her parents’ birthplace. Along the way, she is derided over her butch appearance from some older folks with no filter. She also describes two inspiring and strong Lebanese queers who are raising an adopted child in a country that hasn’t even legalised homosexuality.

The stories range in topics and emotions. You get the feeling that some of these will resonate with certain readers more than others. Musician, Jen Cloher’s story about playing the Galaga arcade game while disguised as the boy “John” may mean more to those readers who had strict, Catholic upbringings, for instance. Others may prefer Simon Hunt AKA Pauline Pantsdown’s account of clubbing in Germany in the eighties and crossing the border between the east and west. The collection also includes stories by Peter Polites, Rebecca Shaw, Nayuka Gorrie and many more.

This book is easy to dip in and out of. It doesn’t matter what order you read the stories in. They’re all very readable and highly entertaining, and all contribute to a diverse chorus of rich voices. These contribute to stronger and more substantial conversations about community and experience. They will inform some readers and assist in developing empathy in others. The collected authors are candid in their accounts and one hopes that readers approach this collection with a similar sense of openness.

Queerstories is ultimately an intriguing and nuanced collection. The goal was to tell some great stories and it has managed to do this several times over. A warm and inviting anthology, Queerstories welcomes you in with open arms and draws you into a rich conversation with some fresh and entertaining LGBTQI+ writers. Let’s hope there are more volumes to come.

Profile Image for Fletcher.
137 reviews16 followers
April 11, 2019
I particularly enjoyed the stories in here that had nothing to do with coming out or realising queer identity, though those were well done as well. The slice-of-life as a queer person is something not done enough, and they were memorable and entertaining. This book is of great value in demonstrating a variety of queer experiences and backgrounds. I'd recommend it to any queer person.
Profile Image for Molly Ahern.
21 reviews5 followers
May 25, 2019
Upon seeing Queerstories on a display stand in my local library, I knew I would enjoy it. A catchy title, the acronym on the cover including the A, and the vibe that somehow radiated off of the book. I wasn't wrong.

This heartwarming, heart-wrenching, interesting, intriguing, political, diverse, and utterly amazing collection of tales from Australian LGBTQIA+ writers was something that I needed right about now in my life. As a queer woman, it's great to see queer people tell their stories that include the not so cishet aspects of their lives in the same way they would tell any other story.

The writers in this book come from all walks of life and give many different perspectives on the LGBTQIA+ community and their part of the world's view on that community. I particularly liked Jax Jacki Brown's contribution about how disabled people are viewed and treated differently both in general society and the queer part of society.

I highly recommend this book to all, but especially to those who don't understand the community, even if they are a part of it (young people, like myself would be an example of that).

I'll leave it to Ben McLeay to convince you how brilliantly entertaining Queerstories is:
"At one point, I nearly had a car accident because two drunk hitchhikers had a fight in my car and one of them pulled the keys out of the ignition, locking the steering as I was driving around a corner at 70 miles an hour in a thunderstorm."
Profile Image for gemsbooknook  Geramie Kate Barker.
730 reviews12 followers
September 5, 2018
‘From hilarious anecdotes of an awkward adolescence, to heartwarming stories of family acceptance and self-discovery, the LGBTQIA+ community has been sharing stories for centuries, creating their own histories, disrupting and reinventing conventional ideas about narrative, family, love and community.
Curated from the hugely popular Queerstories storytelling event this important collection features stories from Benjamin Law, Jen Cloher, Nayuka Gorrie, Peter Polites, Candy Royalle, Rebecca Shaw, Simon ‘Pauline Pantsdown’ Hunt, Steven Lindsay Ross, Amy Coopes, Paul van Reyk, Mama Alto, Liz Duck-Chong, Maxine Kauter, David Cunningham, Peter Taggart, Ben McLeay, Jax Jacki Brown, Ginger Valentine, Candy Bowers, Simon Copland, Kelly Azizi, Nic Holas, Quinn Eades, Vicki Melson, Tim Bishop and Maeve Marsden.’
There is a lot to unpack in this book.
This jam-packed book contains a wide range of stories written by various members of the LGBTQIA+ community. With so many different voices and a massive selection of stories to choose from, this collection can be read from start to finish or picked up at a random story.
I honestly don’t know what I was expecting from this book. I guess I just didn’t expect what I got. Does that make sense? This book was filled will interesting stories but it just didn’t have any flow. The lack of cohesion between the stories was really jarring. I read this book from start to finish, so for those who are just reading it story to story this may not be an issue.
Some of the stories in this collection were beautiful. They were funny, heartwarming and really captivating. I had moments of both laughter and tears whilst reading some of these stories.
I did find that some of the stories just didn’t resonate with me. I didn’t feel any emotional attachment to them at all. I also had trouble dealing with all of the adult language and other adults themes. I dint alway notice it, but when I did I just found it unnecessary and sometimes damaging to the story being told.
I don’t have a problem with adult themes and language on a whole, but I felt like it was overused in some of the stories. If the story called for it, I didn’t even notice but some of the stories were just flooded with it for no apparent reason.
If you have an issue with adult theme or language, this is not a book for you. As a warning this book is definitely not suited for younger readers. Adults only would be my recommendation.
Queerstories by Maeve Marsden is an interesting read that will make you think.

Geramie Kate Barker
Profile Image for M.R. Cullen.
Author 3 books8 followers
October 10, 2018
I bought Queerstories on a whim. I saw a mention of it on Twitter, I think. One of the contributors to the anthology had sent out a link saying 'read me in here,' or words to that effect. Seeing it was a collection of pieces by LGBTIQ Australian writers I wanted to read it but was sort of fearful of it being a 'this is my tragedy,' collection.

I couldn't have been more wrong in that fear. The stories range from laugh out loud hysterical to crying quietly into a tissue. From gay clubs in East Germany in the 80s to the amusement of an older sister convincing her younger brother priests were vampires hungering for confession the collection is a series of stories that allow a sense of connection.

Reading the stories of love, loss and family made my heart smile and gave me the opportunity to release some of the scars I carry from my journey.

I can't recommend this collection highly enough. For Queer readers, for members of and allies of the LGBTIQ+ communities, for those who view our community with distrust and disgust. QueerStories contains our humanity in it's highest form, the form of stories, of vastly different journeys that show us our sameness and connection in a world too often determined to show us only our differences.
Profile Image for Luana.
234 reviews14 followers
February 26, 2019
The only reason this has four stars instead of five is because there were a couple of stories in here that I did not get into but the majority of these I did. They ranged from funny, to emotional, to reflective, to political (which is one of my favourites - Kelly Azizi's 'A shit queer').

The beauty of this book is its diversity of voices whose one similarity is that they are all eloquent.

Podcasts of a couple of my favourites from the book:




Profile Image for Natalie Mikhael.
40 reviews
March 9, 2019
“It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept and celebrate those differences” - Audre Lorde

The stories in this book ranged from being so relatable that I thought I had written some sentences.. to so completely foreign that I had to google some words.

It challenged me to question the beliefs I have about myself, my community and the world.

I guess that’s the point.

Until you put stories to ideas, until you have the chance to hear such personal and honest accounts of what other humans have experienced, how can you possibly understand them.

Profile Image for Betty Macdonald Saudemont.
158 reviews1 follower
August 10, 2021
I love being able to read queer writing by Australian authors. They speak in a language and of a setting that is familiar to me and reflects my personal experiences.

Every short story, although each of them completely different, felt special and left me feeling full.⁣

This compilation is perfect to devour in one sitting, or instead you could read one story a day, taking the time to digest its pivotal and political content.⁣

I highly recommend gifting a copy to all your queer friends and for my part I can’t wait to go see Queerstories live! ⁣
Profile Image for Louise.
29 reviews12 followers
June 2, 2023
I really enjoyed this when I read it back in ~2017. It was the pick for bookclub last month and I really struggled to re-read it due to sheer exhaustion and my aversion to re-reading 90% of books. I have been to a few Queerstories live events and enjoy the podcast - primarily bc of the range of voices and stories that highlight a range of queer experiences and experiences while queer. I didn't particularly remember any of the specifics of the stories - but I loved that it highlights First Nations voices and other BIPOC voices - as well as aroace and poly voices.
Profile Image for italiandiabolik.
258 reviews10 followers
April 5, 2021
Interesting read. Some are good, some are less appealing, but overall a captivating collection of LGBTQ+ stories of Aussie writers.
Really enjoyed Hunt, Copland, Holas (maybe the most emotional one) and Polites (change the Greek heritage with the Italian one, and I can relate), whereas I found Gourrie very confusing, plus a couple more that I skipped after few paragraphs.
Profile Image for Suzie.
762 reviews15 followers
October 22, 2018
3 1/2 stars. Some fabulous stories in here (Benjamin Law, Mama Alto, Peter Taggart), some that were interesting and some that I didn't really care about at all. Pretty typical of a short story collection then!
Profile Image for David Beards.
28 reviews1 follower
January 11, 2019
What a brilliant anthology! To my amazement, we are now seeing outlets for those that don’t fall into the privileged white heteronormative gay male world. Yes! This book gives the rest of us voice! What wonderful voices! An eclectic mix of diverse voices!
Profile Image for Jay Moran.
53 reviews
May 20, 2021
Poingnant, funny and challenging. Some great writing on important topics.
6 reviews
June 7, 2021
Beautiful and thought-provoking stories, loved the emotion conveyed
Profile Image for Lari.
192 reviews20 followers
July 1, 2021
Sometimes funny, sometimes moving, and all of them amazing. I was especially excited that an asexual story was included!
Profile Image for Bry.
56 reviews7 followers
December 3, 2021
What a joyful, complicated series of stories. Full of love and jokes and heartbreak, touching on a huge range of queer experiences and identities.
36 reviews2 followers
September 18, 2020
This anthology is like a little kaleidoscope of queerness, presenting bite sized morsels of the lives, loves and memories of queer Australians. Marsden has picked and edited these stories from a trove of hundreds who have spoken at her live events, and the careful pruning and shaping of these stories and their masterful curation makes this book the perfect degustation of experiences. Each story is different in tone and timing, and it is impossible to enjoy them all with the same relish, but there is something who has a fascination with how queers lives our lives in this delightful collection.
Displaying 1 - 29 of 29 reviews

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