A LIMESTONE Coast leader in the mental health and LGBTIQA+ communities has become the face of a national gender identity campaign.
Mount Gambier’s Kyra Sykes is one of three people featured in headspace’s Finding a Safe Space campaign, building on her involvement with the organisation as part of its Youth National Reference Group since mid-2019.
In a vibrant and energetic short movie, Kyra explains the importance of coming out and allowing people to be their true self, with part of Kyra’s expression including the removal of traditional gender pronouns, instead preferencing they and them.
Despite their now-confident attitude, Kyra said growing up in the Blue Lake city they had always felt like an “oddball” and did not believe they were like anyone else around them.
They said queer visibility was something regional areas lacked and aimed to help young people realise they were not alone in their feelings.
“I cop a lot for looking the way that I look and just being open and being myself,” they said.
“I am not deterred because of that though, me living my life is not about anyone but me.
“I feel like it is so important to be authentic and I think a lot of people connect with that because I am so genuinely me.”
Over their young adult years, Kyra said they had been through an “insane” growth period, which saw them become more comfortable with who they were.
“It has definitely been a journey and it is a journey that I am still on and we are all still on throughout life,” they said.
“A lot of people do not consider their worth and how awesome they are and how much they need to nurture that so then they can live fully.
“It does not mean you need to be out there and doing cartwheels, it is just having a space within yourself where you are not comparing to others to make yourself feel better.
“I just got to a point in my life where I was so exhausted by my own existence that I just wanted to live in a way where I’m not fully pressured by this – I just had to make some moves and rock on.”
Kyra said the support from their friends and family throughout their growth period had been an integral part of the journey.
“My mum has always said ‘I am so proud of you and (brother) Matt because you have never been a sheep – you have never followed the crowd’,” they said.
“That is because it is just not us.
“Everyone is so different and we should be celebrating that.”
As part of the campaign, Kyra will also fly to Sydney tomorrow morning for their first Mardi Gras.
“Living in a regional area, I have not really had the opportunity to attend any pride-based events,” they said.
“The only time I have been able to participate in anything similar was an equality march in Adelaide during the plebiscite and obviously that is a whole different vibe.
“I am really excited to go to the biggest event in Australia – it is going to be epic.
“I know I am going be really emotional and cry really hard but it will be with joy because I will be surrounded by so many like-minded people.”
The campaign coincides with the relaunch of the Qheadspace platform this month.
Qheadspace offers a safe dedicated space on the headspace website for young people who identify as LGBTIQA+ to connect with their peers through chats and forum group sessions.
Visit headspace.org.au/not-always-glitter for more information on the campaign and the Qheadspace platform.