why i love matt glitterthug lovett, by lily-elaine hawk wakawaka
several years ago we both found ourselves in the over heated city of toronto attending a week-long philosophy intensive focusing on the intersection of kant and education. what a combo. we often sat on opposite sides of the circle-sitting group. about half way through the week though i wore a deconstructed, super loose fitting vivienne westwood airy white shirt dress and a pair of ankle wrapping, barely there black chie mihara sandals. the style of the sandal some people identified as "gladiator." they are wrong in that identification, but the point of mentioning it is that the chie's were made, and i was wearing them, before the gladiator trend began to dominate summer shoes, and even if these sandals don't, in my categorically-driven mind, count as gladiators, they were still for their time interesting and unusual. at the end of the week, matt and i finally ended up standing outside on a toronto library sidewalk next to each other. he confessed to me that when he saw me in the shirt dress and the sandals he noticed me uniquely, and wondered to himself, "i wonder if she knows what she's got on there, or if that outfit was just lucky." i'd been speaking up about kantian metaphysics and its lesson in the gains that can come from genuine humility as a learning comportment all week. but the thing was, the group was FULL of people talking about kant in complex and interesting ways, so it took the shoes to really grab his attention. by the end of the summer, matt told me, he'd answered his own question--does she know what she has there? with, she does! she does! and that was how our friendship started. we met with common interest in both a city, and philosophy, but it was our commitment to keeping an eye on fashion as an aesthetic project that made us friends.
i mean, along with the drinking.
and the gay-pop-rap-disco concerts.
and me single handedly encoring Cazwell at the end of his Toronto Pride 2007 show.
and our mutual commitment to gender-sexuality-race-class-liberation-aesthetic-development-responsibility politics.
matt is, hands down, one of the smartest people i've ever met. he's directed that intellectual ability towards feminist, and queer studies, as well as european philosophy. i've been able to have with him the most interesting conversations about what it means to be a self, the incoherence of such a question, the role of gender in society, the challenge of negotiating subject position, and all the other obvious stuff that connects to those utterly important and simultaneously trendy topics. even more interestingly, matt and i have gotten to share in a multi-year dialogue on the importance of fashion in relation to those topics--as the site through which they come to life, and can be more directly and effectively negotiated. it's a topic many people mistakenly resist. i know i'm not wrong about that.
a couple of years ago whysuttonloves made the comment that he thought the back-and-forth fashion related thread matt and i had developed via each others facebook walls could be turned into a critical discourse text on fashion, aesthetics, politics, and the self. that's a book i believe we could one day write, and it's also clear it would have to have a few chapters on leather and marshmallows added in.
matt has been my go-to person when it comes to dressing myself, planning costumes, and thinking through the challenges of finding slimane-era dior homme, or deciding if demeulemeester is really worth the price (the answer to this is always 'yes') since we first met that summer in toronto. this may sound trivial to some, but the truth is, imbedded within this conversation on clothes has been a powerful experience of recognition and its accompanying sense of acceptance, expression, and celebration. i know that experience has been true for both matt and i. in the midst of that engagement i believe we've both become more comfortable with ourselves, while we've also grown more open with each other.
in being close to matt, i've not only learned a hell of a lot more about fashion. i've also learned a hell of a lot about myself in relation to everything from relations with others--both in terms of romantic dynamics and in terms of political engagements, to the complexity of feeling and doing, to the necessity of glitter pants on a wednesday night in the middle of winter when no one else is even outside. in the midst of all that learning and growing i've done over the several years of our friendship, i've seen matt move through his own comparable developments too. indeed, his reflections on love, aesthetics, revulsion, post-modern challenges to the cohesive self, kantian perfectionism, hegelian spirit, deluezian drama ... has pushed me to grow too from witnessing and involving myself with his growing self. (lord, that sounds cheesy and complicated, doesn't it?)
in the midst of all this, matt has also extended the gift of my friendship with him into his willingness to engage with my friends too (including a couple of really hard to deal with ones that he patiently helped through their own self-awareness challenges through months of chatting online). matt is not only one of the sharpest minds i know, but also one of the dearest hearts.
perhaps, for a moment, to put it more simply, and to borrow his language: i love you, matty-bear. (and that's where the marshmallows show up.)