For a primer on Donuts & Broccoli, please go here!
Hi all! Happy Sunday. I hope everyone had a happy Labor Day. (For some bonus-broccoli, here’s a thought-provoking article on why the U.S. celebrates Labor Day in September as opposed to International Workers’ Day in May, like the rest of the world. Hint…it’s communism.)
In honor of the LGBTQ victory that took place in India this week, we’re looking at how British colonialism brought about the intense policing of sexual identity in the same country that wrote the Kama Sutra, and how it’s continued till today. And for our donut, meet Annika Victoria, one of my favorite DIY YouTubers. She may or may not be one of the reasons I blew a bunch of Amazon gift cards on a sewing machine that I…still have not learned how to use.
Donut: Ethical Fashion with Annika Victoria
Many of Annika’s most popular videos are her recreations of viral fashion trends, like the clear knee mom jeans of yesteryear. (Ah, remember clear knee mom jeans? A simpler time.) Others are her own oddball creations, like the teddy bear phone case. And Annika has plenty of more practical videos to boot, including everything from making your own underwear, to sleep masks, backpacks, and dog sweaters.
But a common thread throughout all of Annika’s videos is a focus on sustainability. Whether by modeling what you can make yourself instead of buying, or by using as many upcycled materials as possible, Annika tries to steer her audience away from the wasteful world of fast fashion and towards the sustainable practice of making and altering your own clothes. Some of my favorite videos of Annika’s are the projects she does to use up all the scrap fabric she has laying around her home.
One of my other favorite things about Annika’s channel is the way she’s opened up about her experiences with chronic illness. Just over a year ago, Annika posted a “Get Ready With Me” video to her YouTube channel where she discussed being a disabled 25 year old, a wheelchair user, a chronically ill person, and, you know, a YouTuber/science student/Australian/dog-lover. Since then Annika has talked about feeling like she needed to hide her illness from her audience, and discusses accessibility alongside fashion trends and social justice on both her channel and other social media.
If you’d like to get started on learning how to sew (which I am definitely…getting to) Annika has a whole series on sewing for beginners, including cute projects that you can try out when you’re just figuring out how to turn on your machine. Like all her videos, they’re really fun and accessible. Check it out!
Broccoli: Victory as India’s Supreme Court Strikes Down Law Punishing Gay Sex
‘377’ is a number that lives in infamy throughout the postcolonial world. ‘Section 377’ was the penal code outlawing sex that went “against the order of nature,” and up until this week, was still the rule of law in India, where it had led to the persecution of India’s gay community for nearly 200 years.
Malaysia, Singapore, Jamaica, Kenya, Nigeria, Pakistan—all have their own versions of Section 377, along with dozens of other countries. The law in India was the first of its kind, but identical versions still exist throughout Africa, Asia, and the Pacific.
This year British Prime Minister Theresa May expressed regret for “the legacy of discrimination, violence and even death” left by these breeds of legislation put in place by the British Empire. But regret in the modern day cannot undo the damage done by the Empire’s violent efforts to “civilize” the nations it colonized, instilling them with Victorian-era moral panic in the process.
Though pre-colonial India held an entire subcontinent’s worth of diverse cultural norms, it’s largely believed that discrimination against same-sex practices was a product of those British Victorian attitudes and laws. Until the law was put in place in 1861, various sexual identities and fluid perceptions of gender were commonplace throughout Indian literature and myth.
For examples of gay, lesbian, and transgender literature from throughout India’s history, look here:
- “Homosexuality in India: A Literary History”
- “Indian Traditions Of Love”
- The Man Who Was a Woman and Other Queer Tales from Hindu Lore
Civil rights activists in India have been working towards the end of Section 377 for years, through victories and defeats (after the law was first struck down in 2009, then reversed in 2013, before finally making its way to the constitutional bench of the Indian Supreme Court).
They will continue to fight for the rights of the LGBTQ community in India, and we will see if the landmark decision made this week will ripple throughout the dozens of other countries with the same colonial-era laws on the books.
That’s your Donut and Broccoli for the week—thanks for joining me. Stay hungry!