This article was originally published on Rest for Resistance and is republished with permission.
Rest for Resistance turned one year old on December 23rd. I’ve been trying to celebrate all month. After all, this journey has been so exciting. I’ve met incredible people who have been kind enough to share their perspectives and wisdom. And this has all happened as a result of my own crises, so watching community support flourish from suffering is extremely rewarding. I’m all about that elusive post-traumatic growth – whatever makes the trauma feel a little less like a setback and more like a stepping stone (or accessible ramp).
I really wanted to pause and acknowledge the beautiful work that’s been done over the past year, the visions generously shared by 31 writers and 25 artists. But I’m too tired to celebrate. And I’m burned out, which makes sense since I was burned out a year ago and a year before that and haven’t taken a break this whole damn time. And that brings me to the main point my exhausted ass is trying to make.
Who Can Access Self-Care as an Act of Revolution?
The biggest takeaway I’ve learned from this first year of Rest for Resistance has been how much privilege is required to access rest – a fundamental aspect of any healing process. We all deserve healing. Yet many of us are still fighting for that basic ingredient, rest. Thank you, readers, for being here to fight alongside us. And to reclaim whatever space is within your life to rest, even if it’s been just a few extra days or hours this year.
These are some of the complexities that Audre Lorde spoke of when she named self-care as an act of revolution. Each decision to resist capitalist pressures, to disengage from harmful systems of power and truly rest is a transcendental moment. And these moments of resistance can snowball into a full-force blizzard, bringing earth-shaking natural boundaries to help us stay in and catch a break.
I want the privilege to get on top of my life; to not be scrambling every day; to not be problem-solving how to survive in the back of my mind, in my dreams at night, 24/7. And I know I’m not alone. That is what makes our rest an act of resistance. We don’t have that access, but that doesn’t mean we can’t carve out space to dream and move towards a more restful future. I know it can feel like a far-off goal, maybe even an unreachable one, and that’s why we need a collective movement, one in which we help one another move closer to the bedpost, where we can collapse and catch up on the healing we need.
Too Tired to Rest
Isn’t it funny how exhaustion can get in the way of self-care? Actually, it’s only funny in that way where something is so true – but shouldn’t be – that you have to laugh to get through the moment of awareness without crumbling. And then find a distraction to forget that moment of awareness ever happened.
There’s a real disconnect between this radical ideology – Rest as Resistance – and the way we actually live our lives. We talk about self-care, but continue prioritizing other parts of life. We share ideas about building mutually supportive communities, yet return to isolation in the times we need each other most. We make plans to support each other in self-care, then cancel when anything that looks like a potential excuse comes up. I mean… I do these things, and I’m pretty sure I’m not alone.
This platform has given us a unique space to unpack what stops us from living true to our values, interrogate the bullshit getting in the way of our healing, and ideally learn together how to reclaim rest as a critical aspect of liberation work. The team at Rest for Resistance believes we have to hold this conversation and this practice in multiple ways, and we have to include as many perspectives on rest as possible to respect and acknowledge our widespread communities and their needs.
We’re still learning what rest means and what it requires. This is where we’ve focused so far:
- Meditation (or some other break from outside messaging)
- Personal stories about navigating the struggle
- Access to resources
- Community conversations about ways to increase support
- Tools to develop deeper self-love
Using What You Have to Help Others Rest
We need your help for Rest for Resistance to continue driving this conversation and creating support resources that allow us to collectively rest. Community support takes a community, and we’re asking everyone who believes in the values of Rest for Resistance to get involved in this mental health movement.
In the face of so much community need, it can be easy to get discouraged and lose motivation to help. While those feelings are understandable, remember that doing nothing to create changes means that society will stay imbalanced in a way that harms others. The few privileges each of us have, even as disabled queer & trans people of color, can point to the ways we’re empowered to help. Practicing intersectionality requires acknowledging the power we hold in society, not only asking for support around our multiple oppressions.
Since we value rest here, I want to share ideas about how you might be able to leverage your social positioning to support this work – without overextending yourself or sacrificing your own wellness. Rest for Resistance needs donations, of course, all the time. That said, we also believe that redistribution of resources involves energy, time, and emotional labor alongside money. If you don’t have money to give, there are many other ideas below to support liberatory community work here at Rest for Resistance and your other fave grassroots orgs.
Mobility: If it’s easy for you to get out in person to spread the word, please do so! Many of the people who run QTPoC Mental Health have access issues with events and in-person engagement. Help us perform outreach IRL; we’d be happy to mail you cards to hand out and/or provide you with talking points to support you in starting sincere conversations about Rest for Resistance. Reach out to friends, colleagues, community members, and anyone who you meet in your day-to-day life who can benefit from Rest for Resistance. And if you can help us put up posters in LGBTQ+ centers and mental health spaces, please print this PDF to post in your area.
Ease of Communication: It can be difficult for disabled folks to maintain regular communications, which has an impact on QTPoC Mental Health. We need help promoting Rest for Resistance on social media, emailing organizations to build partnerships, tabling at relevant events, making videos about the work we do, and more. If you find those tasks to be easy – not panic-inducing and inaccessible, like they are for me – then please volunteer to help us get the word out about what we do.
Financial stability: Do you have more resources than you require to cover your basic survival? Congratulations, you’re rich! At least you are rich relative to the rest of us, and that means you’re in one of the best positions to redistribute wealth in society. The best thing you can do is become a monthly donor via Patreon. Additionally, people with financial security have the privilege to volunteer within community, for example moderating our support group, promoting our content through social media platforms, and spearheading our fundraising initiatives. It’s much harder for poor people to work on fundraising because there is so much personal investment in it being successful, and it’s a harsh reminder of the ways our own mental health is impacted by financial restrictions. Take it from me, the person who has breakdowns on a regular basis as a result of fundraising to support QTPoC Mental Health. If others with more financial stability can fill those roles in movement building, then those of us surviving poverty can use our energy more wisely to uphold other aspects of liberatory practices.
Cisgender: It can be difficult to not be read as queer by others because that leads to identity erasure. However, there is still a strength to leverage in that position. Cisgender queers, especially those who are not gender non-conforming, are more likely to be listened to when it comes to QTPoC concerns. Talk to other cisgender queer folks about the need to center transgender liberation in our LGBTQ2IA movement. And be open to educating cishets about transgender issues and other lesser-known problems in the LGBTQ2IA movement, such as immigrant detention, inequality of access for HIV treatment and prevention, and the higher rate of housing instability and other traumas for queer & trans people of color. Collect resources created by trans people, particularly trans people of color, and be ready to help other gender-conforming people understand our perspectives by sharing and processing those resources together.
More Radical Reads: Self-Care and Social Justice Work
Non-Black: Don’t just seek out information that you relate to. Listen to Black trans & queer individuals about their experiences, and make a conscious effort to read the articles they publish here and elsewhere. Share their posts, donate to them directly, and talk to others about what you are learning in the process, being sure to credit specific people who are providing that public education about Black trans lives. And last but not least, participate in reparations for Black queer individuals, sharing fundraisers – including one-on-one with people who you know can afford to give – when you cannot donate yourself. For example, you can support R4R editor Venus Selenite by sharing vir fundraiser right now.
Settler Privilege: There is an immense amount of Indigenous erasure in our LGBTQ+ communities and mental health conversations. Read up on the intersections of settler privilege and racism, as well as settler privilege and anti-Blackness. Check yourself when you use the word “decolonize”; is it a buzzword, or are you actually talking about empowering Indigenous communities to liberate Turtle Island, Aeoteroa, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Aboriginal territories, and other colonized lands? And if you are in the Americas, seek out resources by two-spirit people about two-spirit identity. Indigenous understandings of gender will never fit into the English language or the limited gender roles and sexualities that society widely recognizes, and all QTPoC are indebted to Indigenous queer folks for leading the way in those conversations. It’s our responsibility as non-Indigenous people to create space for them to lead our dialogues, our social justice movements, and our daily lives – and not dictate how they use that space or how Indigenous individuals move towards decolonization. We must act on the knowledge that Indigenous people are the only ones who can speak to their needs, not merely pay lip service and tokenize them within our movements.
Proximity to whiteness: Recruit white folks to become donors. If you’re not comfortable asking them to provide financial support, which is admittedly hard since it requires trust that white people will support queer people of color, then you can share articles from Rest for Resistance instead so that they can see and understand the value in our work from their own perspective. Keep in mind that not all queer people of color are even in a position to educate white folks, and say as much as you can on behalf of our QTPoC communities. A lot of white people, especially white queers, do find healing through the work of queer & trans people of color. Help them understand this legacy by reminding them of the labor of our transcestors like Marsha P. Johnson, Miss Major, and Sylvia Rivera. Talk to them about the colonization of gender and sexual identities. Shake up the myth that white queers are leading the way toward liberation. White folks should recognize that they can help us access resources, can share our resources in places we might not have access to, and can advocate for QTPoC wellness in their community spaces.
More Radical Reads: ‘Doing Your Best’ is Not About Pushing Yourself Beyond Your Limits
Educational privilege: Use your academic networks to raise awareness within groups of people who have access to resources and money. Network with other queer and/or disabled academics to inform them about the work of Rest for Resistance, and ask how professors are including QTPoC-created resources in the classroom. Inform classmates and colleagues of issues with resource allocation; for example, the wellness tools that marginalized people benefit from are less researched, our safety is less prioritized, and we are silenced within the queer and disabled movements – including being silenced through lack of funding. You can also help us create resources and surveys that QTPoC Mental Health can distribute so we’re able to better meet the needs of our communities and shift mental health conversations to include us.
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We’re so grateful that you believe in the revolutionary power of rest. It can be difficult to untangle the false ideas that lead to self-care being an act of resistance for marginalized folks, and we’re here to continue that journey as a community.
Please sign up for our monthly newsletter so you can easily access and share our latest art, writing, and other resources. And if you’re down to support us, or even if you’re still stumped about how to help, please reach out to [email protected]. We love to hear feedback, suggestions, and questions about Rest for Resistance and QTPoC Mental Health.
[Featured Image: A person with dark curly hair is holding their finger in front of their lips. They are wearing square earrings and a gray shirt. Source: pexels]