There's plenty of LGBTQ+ accounts out there I've come across and started to follow on Instagram over the past few years. One that has stood out to me more recently is @devthvally in particular because not only do I stalk their page for style inspo but noticed they are vegan and outspoken about social justice causes as well. I wanted to interview Olly to shed a light on gender constructs and open the conversation up for some education so we can all get a little more comfortable with the subject. I hope this interview can help you gain knowledge or inspire you or make you feel supported. Leave a comment below and let me know what you think and if you want us to keep doing these types of interviews!
BxB: How long have you been vegan and how did you discover veganism?
OLLY: About 3.5 years now! I never really understood or learned about veganism as I was raised so far from it and mainstream media didn’t help one bit. One day I realized I knew quite a few queer vegans and wanted to know what it was all about, since I trust the community. It was something that was subconsciously on my mind for a very long time, as consuming dairy and meat has never sat quite right with me physically or mentally, I just didn’t know why. Once I was mentally healthy enough within myself to make the connection and educate myself to the point of no return, the switch was as easy as breathing. My entire world opened up and I became more excited about food and my own physical and mental health. Having said that, my lifestyle isn’t led by my health or agenda, I am more concerned with morals, all of which go against the meat & dairy industry, factory farming, torture, etc. If it’s vegan - healthy or not - I’ll eat it !
BxB: Do you think there is a link between veganism and gender? Also why is intersectionality important the vegan movement?
OLLY: Not necessarily, but I do think there’s a link between veganism and the queer community. There is also an unfortunate link between veganism and privilege which is why intersectionality is so important. I find a lot of vegans are queer and vice-versa, but sometimes they are white feminists / environmentalists - meaning they put animals before humans of minority (aka POC). For example, white vegans who care about the environment but wear dreadlocks and think All Lives Matter or support only inaccessible vegan businesses or don’t put the same energy into human activism. When they are oppressing/unfairly benefiting from humans but living a “cruelty free” lifestyle but buy sweat shop made nike…. their white & wealthy privilege is clouding their judgement. Humans need their own equal rights, sometimes before they can focus on animal rights. Not to say people don’t and can’t do both, but you can’t judge someone’s choices with less privilege. I can say after fighting for my own rights, my loved ones rights, for intersectional feminism and left wing politics, etc - it’s tiring fighting for animal rights too, but I do it. Some people have a lot more against them, which leaves no room for anything but bare survival. Intersectionality is beyond imperative to veganism, as to feminism, otherwise we’re just regressing. There are plenty of valid reasons why people cannot be vegan (poverty, geography, mental or physical health, etc) and there needs to be space for that. Rather than put them down we can focus on fighting to improve this mess of a planet by using our privilege; which in turn will create more space, education and accessibility to veganism.
The word veganism unfortunately has the same weird negative stigma that feminism used to (and still does to some), but hopefully as with feminism, that will change, because it is misguided.
BxB: Describe your style.
OLLY: Skater boy // minimalist // monochrome // genderless // confused // frustrated ???
BxB: What defines you?
OLLY: My morals, my partner, my success (I’m a Leo), my chosen family, my hair and my socks.
BxB: Can you tell us what pronouns you prefer?
OLLY: they/them - thank you!
BxB: Can you explain what NB means and why you identify with that?
OLLY: NB means non-binary, which means you identify outside the binary, as opposed to within the male or female binary. Whether you’re genderless or fluid or anywhere in between, you’ll essentially fall under this umbrella. Some trans people aren’t non-binary as they are just born in the opposite body. But very often trans people are non-binary, like myself, as regardless of what physical transition they choose if any at all, they don’t fit in the binary of male or female. This is also becoming more common as gender is slowly being blurred and broken down. For example, I know some trans men who are slowly starting to realize they might be non-binary, and only chose the term man because they thought there were only two options.
BxB: Can you tell us how it was for you growing up and if there was a time you felt more yourself than ever before?
OLLY: Growing up was tough. I had all this anger, self-hatred and depression which I now know stemmed from dysphoria. I have 5 brothers - I was always jealous of everything they had and hated everything about myself. I just remember dressing like a “boy” and avoiding the mirror. I have never fit in anywhere, especially school and my family. I now know that societal binaries are the main reason for this…. I don’t fit in, and that’s not a bad thing. I actually recently realized that I demonized my mom and idolized my dad for no reason other than who I wanted to be / look up to. I had this irrational distance from my mom because she would treat me like her little girl and try to bond through womanhood, which made our relationship so toxic and completely enflamed my rage and dysphoria. Hopefully one day she will understand why I was and am the way I am - which is a huge reason I started my project Otherness - I want my family to understand. Obviously growing up in a small town wasn’t helpful, and my world completely opened up when I moved to a major city in Australia, then tenfold when I moved to North America. I feel like I’ve finally found my people (NYC ily), and never really fit in Australia for blurred reasons. So I guess now is the time I feel most myself, and I think it will always be the present, I am growing and learning about myself every day, and society is (though sometimes doubtful) progressing.
BxB: As the LGBTQ+ and gender constructs keep expanding and becoming more accepted, what is it that you think people outside of these communities should know about us?
OLLY: I think some important things would be that there aren’t “boxes” as they’ve created in the outside world. No one is the same - like snowflakes - identity/expression is solely one’s own choice. I feel like if someone from the outside world really took a minute to get to know someone and their feelings and identity, they would be so much more accepting. People are just scared of things they don’t understand or aren’t educated on, and it’s really unfortunate because they’re missing out on some great friends who are now just being oppressed because of it. They should also remember that almost everything is a construct (NOT REAL) and society is forever evolving and progressing. Listen to your kids, listen to the future, listen to love and kindness; not hate or oppression.
BxB: For someone out there struggling with their identity, do you have any advice for them?
OLLY: Find people like you. Move closer to a major city if not into it. If this is not an option or you’re still underage - use the internet to find your people - there’s tonnes of us!! Sign up to magazines/websites (some good ones are them., Out, Posture, DapperQ), find queer folks on instagram + tumblr + twitter, etc, pay attention to the queer & trans celebrities that are showing up. Know that you are not alone, take your time with your own identity. Don’t worry if you can’t figure it out - you don’t need a label! I honestly question myself every day and have quite literally no idea what’s going on. But that’s ok, the world is evolving and we can evolve too. Just make sure you’re safe - you are the future and you are beautiful.
BxB: Tell us about your project called Otherness, what inspired you to create it and what your goal is for it?
OLLY: Otherness started because I was mainly sick of non-binary trans people having no place anywhere, and people thinking “trans” meant only ftm (female to male) or mtf (male to female). I was also sick of people - including family - having a completely warped and stereotypical view of queer and specifically trans people. I wanted to give us a platform and showcase how beautiful and different everyone is. With diversity at the core, I’m hoping to ease people via visual and/or audio stimulation into our world - they need to see the colors, they need to hear the language, they need to feel the fire. A couple of goals would be to make trans people feel heard and important - both the subjects and the audience; to have an art opening/installation in Brooklyn next year, with all the content all over the walls and queer pop-ups and DJ’s, etc etc; and to actively fight the patriarchy.
BxB: How do you want to change the world?
OLLY: I want to break down stigma & stereotypes in the fashion industry and the world in general by being myself! I love confusing people and making them question everything they know, and the more visibility I have, the more people will do that. I want to make this world safer and more accessible for binary and nb trans folks and future models, and I want to use my body and mind as the tools for that. Of course, at the same time I would love to educate as much as possible about veganism and work towards a more intersectional, accessible and diverse vegan community. I put the time and energy that comes with my privilege, into helping anyone who asks and is willing to learn.
BxB: Tell us what you like about BEETxBEET.
OLLY: I love the style and designs so much - they fall oddly specifically along my exact vibe haha - black & white, minimalist and vegan! I enjoy the fact that Jacky herself is queer - as a lot of vegan businesses are run by non-intersectional white vegans. The design of all the product is really on point and the message and approach is super cool and casual - I hope to see them thrive forever!