Vulnerable and fierce, heartbreaking and hilarious, Queerstories invites five LGBTQIA+ writers to share a little piece of themselves: the tale they want to tell but are never asked to. Hosted by Maeve Marsden, with Sophie Cunningham, Shane Jenek aka Courtney Act, Daniel Lavery, Joshua Whitehead, and Leanne Yong, Queerstories celebrates the culture and creativity of the queer community, one true story at a time.

This event is Auslan interpreted

A Sydney Writers’ Festival Live & Local Livestream event.



Boy, Girl. Artist, Advocate. Shane Jenek aka Courtney Act is more than just the sum of their parts. A contemporary artist and queer community advocate who embodies the zeitgeist of an era. From Australian Idol, to winner of Celebrity Big Brother UK to series host of One Plus One (ABC). Shane is the voice of Reef School‘s Ms Flouncy (ABC), Courtney co-hosted the Opening of Sydney World Pride. Shane is a bestselling author of Caught In The Act published in 2022.


Daniel Lavery is the cofounder of The Toast, served as Slate‘s Dear Prudence from 2016–2021, and the author of Something That May Shock and Discredit You.


Leanne is an Asian-Australian author of Singaporean and Malaysian heritage who loves writing the diaspora experience into fiction. She started her career as an IT business analyst and is now an escape room creator who has designed internationally recognised games with her partner that weave unique puzzle mechanics with narrative. Two Can Play That Game is her debut novel.


Sophie Cunningham is the author of nine books, including the novel This Devastating Fever and the essay collection City of Trees. She is also a teacher, mentor, climate change activist and every day she posts an image of a tree on her Instagram @sophtreeofday. A Member of the Order of Australia for her contributions to literature, Sophie is the Chair of the Australian Society of Authors and an executive director of the Copyright Agency.


Joshua Whitehead (he/him) is a Two-Spirit, Oji-nêhiyaw member of Peguis First Nation (Treaty 1). He is currently an Assistant Professor at the University of Calgary where he is housed in the departments of English and International Indigenous Studies (Treaty 7). He is the author of full-metal indigiqueer (Talonbooks 2017) which was shortlisted for the inaugural Indigenous Voices Award and the Stephan G. Stephansson Award for Poetry. He is also the author of Jonny Appleseed (Arsenal Pulp Press 2018) which was long listed for the Giller Prize, shortlisted for the Indigenous Voices Award, the Governor General’s Literary Award, the Amazon Canada First Novel Award, the Carol Shields Winnipeg Book Award, and won the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Fiction, the Georges Bugnet Award for Fiction and Canada Reads 2021. Whitehead is the editor of Love after the End: An Anthology of Two-Spirit and Indigiqueer Speculative Fiction, which won the Lambda Award in 2021. Whitehead’s latest book Making Love with the Land was published in 2022 with Knopf Canada, exploring the intersections of Indigeneity, queerness, and, most prominently, mental health through a nêhiyaw lens. The book was shortlisted for the Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Award for Nonfiction. You can also find his work published widely in such venues as Prairie FireCV2EVENTArc Poetry MagazineThe FiddleheadGrainCNQWrite, and Red Rising Magazine.


Maeve Marsden is a writer and theatremaker. She was a 2020 Phillip Parsons fellow at Belvoir Theatre, and has written, directed and performed in a number of critically acclaimed theatre productions, touring Australia, New Zealand and the UK. Maeve curates national storytelling project Queerstories, and her writing has appeared in The Sydney Morning HeraldGuardian AustraliaJunkee and Archer Magazine, among others.

Event and Ticket Details

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Tickets for this event are free but bookings are encouraged as capacity is limited.

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