Brandon Austin, a 20-year-old drag artist from Hadlow, believes acceptance for the LGBTQ+ community is growing, with the first ever Tonbridge Pride being hosted later this summer.
Better known as his drag persona 'Sophia Stardust', he has gained nearly 58,000 followers on TikTok and hopes to inspire young people in Tonbridge to be proud of themselves and accepting of others.
Sophia Stardust shares her experience of growing up as gay person in Tonbridge
Brandon struggled with his identity growing up and was the victim of nasty bullying during his time at secondary school.
He said: "I thought I was this alien creature from another planet because you're literally not taught about being gay.
"There was no one like me, and I know every drag queen says it, but there literally wasn't.
"Secondary school was horrid, it was horrible because I didn't know who I was."
He continued: "On top of that, I had all the straight boys telling me I was gay because I was very camp.
"I wasn't physically bullied but mentally bullied, which I think is actually worse."
However, when moving to West Kent College, Brandon felt it was safe to come out and he started performing in drag at just 16-years-old.
His graduation from college kick-started his career, as he skipped across the stage and fell into a 'death drop' after collecting his certificate.
The video exploded on social media and currently has more than four million views on Twitter.
Over the past four years, Sophia has become well-known on the drag scene and performs regularly across the UK.
She is a resident drag queen at the Hard Rock Cafe in Oxford Street and can often be found kicking, splitting and twirling at brunches and nightclubs across the South East.
She is a self-made talent and despite not appearing on RuPaul's Drag Race UK (yet), has been booked by the likes of Madame Tussauds for social campaigns.
But her most recent booking is one a lot closer to home, and something that means a lot to the young star.
Sophia has been made the cover girl and social promoter for the very first Tonbridge Pride on Saturday, August 6.
Sophia explained: "The LGBTQ+ community in Tonbridge are going to be so grateful.
"If I saw that when I was 15-years-old, I would feel so different, and the fact they want me to be such a big part of it is crazy."
Tonbridge Pride will start with a march through the high street at noon and will continue with a free event at the castle and surrounding venues, with music, food, fashion, art, support and education.
Faydra Mitchell and Zoe Duerden, organisers at Tonbridge Pride, said: "Sophia is a home-grown talent and a performer who represents love, understanding, joy and is Tonbridge born and bred.
"So for us, she was the perfect choice to be the face of the very first Tonbridge Pride."
The celebrations in the castle will also include a children's area for fun educational activities.
In recent weeks there has been great controversy online over whether children should be present at such events, with some states in America revealing proposals to place a ban on under 18s from attending drag shows.
Sophia said: "My little sister is seven-years-old and I've introduced her to drag and she loves it now.
"It opens children's minds so much - the boys who teased me in secondary school teased me because they knew nothing about it.
"If kids grow up knowing about drag queens and the whole community then it's literally going to be normal - that's the direction we're in which is so nice to see and it's just going to get better and better."
For Sophia, drag is not just a hobby but a livelihood, and allows the expression of emotions about difficult situations.
Each year she creates a visual performance in memory of her late mum.
She said: "I want to celebrate her and her life because people aren't going to forget her.
"I just do it to hopefully inspire other younger people who have lost their mum.
"Like just because you're poor, without family members, without your mum, you can still make a great life and have an impact on other people."
Brandon's 21st birthday this Saturday will also be spent putting on a big performance for drag fans.
Sophia said: "I finally feel so much more confident in myself and this is a big birthday, it's kind of scary as I feel like this is when adulthood kicks in.
"I decided to put on a show with some of my closest friends and create a safe space for people.
"I just want to celebrate how far I've come as a drag queen in the past four years."
Sophia is now an icon for young queer people in Kent to look up to, and she hopes to make a positive impact.
She said: "The best advice I can give to people is just to be nice to everyone.
"I get a lot of messages from people who want to start drag and I would just say you should be nice to absolutely every person you meet.
"You need to work on your performance, whether that is dancing, singing or lip-syncing - drag is more than just the look.
"Also support and message other drag queens, that's what I've done and it has worked for me!"