We can't continue publishing without community support!
Rest for Resistance finds pride in providing space for queer & trans people of color (QTPoC) to share their work and create alternative mental health resources.
Articles and artwork like these are only possible through your contributions. Please donate today to sustain the work of artists, writers, healers, and everyday QTPoC.
I went to a pottery class last week, and we spent most of the time learning how to softly shape the outer edges of the teapot body while supporting the insides with our other hand. My hands felt too big and clumsy, and the teapot kept sinking down because the bottom could not support the weight that I had piled on top.
Then when I was done, the instructor handed us an already flattened clump of clay, set it in the deepest groove of our hands and told us to cut it to fit the opening of our teapot. “That will become the lid,” she said and gave no further direction.
I sat there frozen, holding onto my pottery knife and this round piece of clay. I had made the teapot without even thinking about how big the top had to be. I wondered how the hell I was supposed to cut out a perfect circle to fit the size of the teapot opening. I wondered if there was a stencil. I wondered if I was supposed to hold it over the teapot then try to trace it the best I could. I wondered if I was supposed to get a compass and make a circle.
Then I happened to look over at the instructor. And I saw her carve a circle into her piece of clay. No tools, just a free-hand drawing of a circle-like shape. She didn’t look up from her clay, but in between slicing off certain edges, holding it over the teapot to measure the size, then taking it back to adjust it again, she said, “우리는 기계가 아니에요. 인간이에요. 완벽하지 않아도 괜찮아요.”
We’re not machines. We’re human. It’s okay if it’s not perfect.
It felt like she was talking to me. I silently grabbed my knife and started carving. I keep thinking back to that moment. The assumptions I made about how creation should happen, how mistakes still strike fear in me, and how her words can apply to so many of the situations that I find myself in these days.
* * *
The more I grow, both physically and emotionally, I realize how important that process is and how important creation is. And how our society minimizes these acts because they do not fit into the capitalist goal of maximum production. But we are not machines. Our productivity does not have a steady rate that can be calculated, and we don’t produce more just by spending more hours at a certain task.
We’re more complicated than a simple input (x) —> output (y)
kind of linear function.
We require physical rest, emotional connections, daydreaming, food, laughter, purpose. And all of these things prevent us from fitting neatly into a machine model. I don’t think I really understood how this idea of “productivity” led to my habits of overworking myself, pushing myself too far, not scheduling in breaks — because that’s what always worked and got me to places that others deemed to be “successful.” Now I realize that it was because I had run myself down as if I was not human — as if I were a machine — and that was what they valued.
I think that’s why I’m looking for more opportunities to engage in creative work — like gardening, writing, pottery, music. I am slowly learning how the input of my time, energy, and thoughts never directly lead to a final, marketable product. And how the process of creation is so different each time. The same amount of time, energy, and thoughts might create a completely different “product” on a certain day, for a certain person, in a certain time — or perhaps no complete “product” at all.
Acts of creation are like looking capitalism in the eye and declaring, “I cannot be defined by your standards; I am fundamentally un-quantifiable.” It brings into question the capitalist process of quantifying or commercializing labor. How to put a monetary price tag on food / pottery / art / music / time that do not have set quantifiable labor inputs.
And more importantly, each time I create — kneading the clay and smoothing out its cracks — I feel the energy and warmth radiating from the tips of my fingers, and it shifts my understanding of cost, value, and worth — especially of myself.
Two worn hands are holding a clay teapot. The right hand has a pink bandage on it. The background, which features three teapots and three robot hands, is blue in contrast to the warm tones of the person working with clay.
About Juhee Kwon:
Juhee is a queer diasporic korean from the midwest, currently living in Seoul and pursuing traditional korean medicine.
The role models I had access to were white, affluent and held a lot of disdain for women with lives different than theirs. But back then they had an image, and their way to be trans was what I had.
You refuse to engage with your abuser. Their presence reopens old wounds. You try to heal but it hurts. You like a worm on a bamboo stick hooked on the teeth of lies. Pain pushes you to find silence somewhere.
Celebrating our struggles and successes, and what we can learn from them, is far more meaningful than a mere style parade that glamorizes binary identities, heteronormative rights, and impossible-to-maintain beauty standards.
Though it truly felt like a scary self-abandoning, it was also the first instance I had felt in a while of real self-determination. Against myself I chose myself.
Not only are mental health and racism deeply intertwined, but that connection is too often overlooked or denied. Intersectional mental health isn’t neat and tidy, with one problem over here and the other over there, and the messiness is what we need support to work through
When abusers deny us our reality, it’s gaslighting. When we enact that denial on ourselves, it’s equal parts survival skill and self-harm. Yet we have the ability to change how we treat ourselves, even if we can't change how others treat us.
Intersectional spaces are invaluable for creating a truly humanistic view of people whose voices and stories are often marginalized, distorted, or entirely erased.
When our experiences and identities are erased from history, from our lineages, from our traditional systems of community, we can only see ourselves through the negative lenses that remain.
every villain is often a caricature of marginalised identities, and every hero is a glorified image of the world that wants to destroy me and those I love.
a photo-prayer to document and archive the resilience, faith and self love I vowed to maintain. This is me in my magic, my resistance and in my legacy.
Those feelings didn’t come from some magic place that could be addressed by a back-to-school special and a hug. They came from racism, queerphobia and white supremacy.
The “to do” list implies that each 24 hours is an uphill battle.The “done list” says that I’m conquering the day one step at a time.
Thoughts of suicide come when we run out of options. The more we’re oppressed, the less power we have, which means thoughts of ending our lives might come up a lot. Here are resources and strategies to help you keep fighting for your life without compromising your agency.
The health of our societies depends on the community's ability to hold its members accountable in a way that makes space for each other's individual, predisposed fallibility and capacity for personal growth.
We are divine. The barrier between us and divinity can be destroyed by the realization that our queerness is exactly what makes us worthy.
When we heal, we are able to be more to each other and ourselves. And not in that way where it eventually makes us good productive workers. We become more invested in ourselves, and we have more of ourselves to utilize in the ways that bring joy for everyone, including us.
In order to harm ourselves less and care more, we need to look at our relationship with the world around us. The problem isn’t how we’re hurting ourselves, but that we’re hurting ourselves at all.
Becoming sober has allowed me to discover who I really am and has allowed me to fall in love with myself. I still battle with thoughts of drinking because I live at home with my dad, but I know that putting my life in jeopardy and hurting my loved ones is not a risk I'm willing to take.
Ask them what they can offer you besides coping skills, and remember that you’re worth it.
We all deserve community, and many of us find that on social media. So how can we practice self-care online while navigating the bullshit?
Though my relationship with a man hides my queerness in a sort of closet, I'm a black queer woman, and I want to support others more at risk in the queer community. Here are five ways I help.
Our denial of our needs (and to be clear, needs, not wants) does not create a more just world. Food, shelter, safety and caring relationships are necessary to all.
We require physical rest, emotional connections, daydreaming, food, laughter, purpose. And all of these things prevent us from fitting neatly into a machine model.
Self-care is so simple it can also be simple to forget. If you need time to put down work and check out from life, then take it. Know that you are restoring your energy for the challenges of life.
We, fat black queer women are viewed as the symbol of desire that is chaotic. Expected to be the backbone of each community without being viewed as the celebrated prototype of any given community.
Whether you have a little privilege or a lot, it’s easy to feel helpless when considering the scope of systemic oppression. Growth is always possible, so once we accept the need to change, the only question is how.
I felt something stir up inside me when I was around my Native brothers and sisters. What awoke inside was how much I’ve been running away from myself.