Teenage drag queen Kyle Andrews has lived in the central Queensland town of Clermont almost all his life.
And the 16-year-old says he proudly walks through the tiny mining town – population 2,170 – in full drag, including fake eyelashes, heels and lots of padding.
“I have a couple of outfits I wear, the look I go for is more of an emo lesbian biker,” he told the Daily Mail.
“When I walk through the streets like this I get a few stares and catcalls, but I get compliments as well.
“It’s a range of different responses but it doesn’t matter as long as you hold your head high.”
But he says he’s also been the target of bullying and sexual harassment.
“I’ve had my property vandalised and when I was with my last partner he had his car windows smashed for being gay,” he said.
He said other gay people he knows of in Clermont, located 1000 km north west of Brisbane, tend to “keep to themselves” because they’re concerned about their safety.
“I always think about how unsafe it might be. The first time I went out in drag I was on edge the whole time,” he said.
“Even now, two years down the line, you still have the thought at the back of your head.”
Kyle first came out as gay to his friends at age 13, and endured homophobic bullying at high school until he left halfway through year 11.
“I took it straight to heart back then but now that I’m older and I’m used to it, I’m able to respond better,” he said.
“I can laugh and chuck away the negativity but school was pretty crappy.”
Kyle said makeup quickly became an “obsession” for him from age 13, when he borrowed an old eye shadow palette of his mother’s after watching RuPaul’s Drag Race.
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He used drag as an escape to “be someone else and be a different person” and he’s now a trainee make-up artist and launched his own make-up business earlier this year.
“I also do [drag] to entertain, and it can be beautiful. It’s an art to me,” he said.
“Before I leave the house I always put some makeup on because I love the way it looks.”
Kyle said he wanted to be the role model he needed when he was younger to show him he should love and accept who he is.
“When I was growing up a lot of people were negative about gay people and I used to have those views too,” he said.
“It wasn’t until I found out what being gay meant and that I have these feelings I realised I didn’t have to go with what everyone else is doing.
He told ABC News, “A lot of people tell me, ‘Why don’t you just tone it down? You’re in a small town like this, you’re going to upset people by dressing the way you do or being feminine.’
“But the only way this town is going to change is if you get more people like me in it.
“And if I have to be the first one to do it, I’m bloody going to be the first one to do it, because it takes one to build an army.”
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(Photos courtesy of Kyle Andrews)