It Was Vulgar and It Was Beautiful: How AIDS Activists Used Art to Fight a Pandemic Audiobook, by Jack Lowery Play Audiobook Sample

It Was Vulgar and It Was Beautiful: How AIDS Activists Used Art to Fight a Pandemic Audiobook

It Was Vulgar and It Was Beautiful: How AIDS Activists Used Art to Fight a Pandemic Audiobook, by Jack Lowery Play Audiobook Sample
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Read By: Vikas Adam Publisher: Bold Type Books Listen Time: at 1.0x Speed 9.50 hours at 1.5x Speed 7.13 hours at 2.0x Speed Release Date: April 2022 Format: Unabridged Audiobook ISBN: 9781549166105

Quick Stats About this Audiobook

Total Audiobook Chapters:


Longest Chapter Length:

74:43 minutes

Shortest Chapter Length:

05 seconds

Average Chapter Length:

40:26 minutes

Audiobooks by this Author:


Publisher Description

The powerful story of art collective Gran Fury--who fought back during the AIDS crisis through organizing, direct action, and community-made propaganda--offers lessons in love and grief to today's marginalized communities.

By the late 1980s, the AIDS pandemic was deeply impacting gay and lesbian communities in America, and disinformation about the disease was running rampant. Out of the activist group ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power), an art collective that called itself Gran Fury was formed, to create graphics and media that campaigned against corporate greed, government inaction, and public indifference to AIDS.

In It Was Vulgar and It Was Beautiful, writer Jack Lowery examines Gran Fury's art and activism, from the iconic images like the Kissing Doesn't Kill poster, to the act of dropping thousands of fake bills onto the trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Lowery offers a complex, moving portrait of a group that expressed through art the profound trauma of surviving the AIDS crisis and formed essential solidarities between gays and lesbians in the activist community.

Gran Fury and ACT UP's strategies are today employed by a variety of activist groups, including survivors of school shootings, harm reduction organizers, and activists for universal healthcare. Their belief in the power of art to create social change and drive political movements is illuminating in this era when violence and unending structural racism continue to target the most vulnerable.



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“Lowery’s raw emotion strikes deep into the reader’s conscience. The context of how the art was incubated makes this narrative essential to the history of the AIDS epidemic.”

— Library Journal (starred review) 


  • “Lowery painstakingly reconstructs conversations and negotiations that compel a reader to feel the era’s anguish and urgency.”

    — New York Times
  • “Educational and entertaining, this look at queer history has a lot to tell us about what’s going on today.”

    — BuzzFeed
  • “A fascinating study of how art galvanized AIDS activism in the 1980s and ’90s.”

    — Publishers Weekly (starred review)
  • “Lowery lovingly portrays the strength, effort, happy victories, and overwhelming sadness of [ACT UP’s] historic efforts.”

    — Booklist (starred review)


  • A New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice of the Week

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About Jack Lowery

Jack Lowery is a writer and teacher whose writing has appeared in The Atlantic, the London Times Literary Supplement, and The Awl. He completed his MFA degree in nonfiction writing at Columbia University and has taught in the undergraduate writing program at Columbia University. As an editor, he has published the poetry of David Wojnarowicz.

About Vikas Adam

Vikas Adam is a classically trained actor with numerous credits in stage, film, commercials, and television, in addition to his over two hundred recorded audiobooks. His narrations have garnered numerous awards and nominations, including AudioFile Earphones Awards, various Best of the Year lists, and the prestigious Audie Award. He was an inaugural inductee into the Audible Narrator Hall of Fame.