Gay Guerrilla: Julius Eastman and His Music
University of Rochester Press, 2018, Softcover, 284 pages, 22 × 14 cm
Composer-performer Julius Eastman was an enigma, both comfortable and uncomfortable in the many worlds he inhabited: black, white, gay, straight, classical music, disco, academia, and downtown New York. His music, insistent and straightforward, resists labels and seethes with a tension that resonates with musicians, scholars, and audiences today. Eastman tested limits with his political aggressiveness, as recounted in legendary scandals he unleashed, for example, his June 1975 performance of John Cage's Song Books, which featured homoerotic interjections, and the uproar over his titles at Northwestern University. These episodes are examples of Eastman's persistence in pushing the limits of the acceptable in the highly charged arenas of sexual and civil rights. The essays in Gay Guerrilla offer context on Eastman's life history and the era's social landscape, commentaries on the composer's personality and talents, and analyses of his music. The book presents an authentic portrait of a notable American artist that is compelling reading for the general reader as well as scholars interested in twentieth-century American music, American Studies, gay rights, and civil rights.