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The Velvet Rage: Overcoming the Pain of Growing Up Gay in a Straight Man's World

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The gay male world today is characterized by seductive beauty, artful creativity, flamboyant sexuality, and, encouragingly, unprecedented acceptability in society. Yet despite the progress of the recent past, gay men still find themselves asking, "Are we really better off?" The inevitable byproduct of growing up gay in a straight world continues to be the internalization o The gay male world today is characterized by seductive beauty, artful creativity, flamboyant sexuality, and, encouragingly, unprecedented acceptability in society. Yet despite the progress of the recent past, gay men still find themselves asking, "Are we really better off?" The inevitable byproduct of growing up gay in a straight world continues to be the internalization of shame, a shame gay men may strive to obscure with a façade of beauty, creativity, or material success. Drawing on contemporary psychological research, the author's own journey to be free of anger and of shame, as well as the stories of many of his friends and clients, The Velvet Rage outlines the three distinct stages to emotional well-being for gay men. Offering profoundly beneficial strategies to stop the insidious cycle of avoidance and self-defeating behavior, The Velvet Rage is an empowering book that will influence the public discourse on gay culture, and positively change the lives of gay men who read it.

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The gay male world today is characterized by seductive beauty, artful creativity, flamboyant sexuality, and, encouragingly, unprecedented acceptability in society. Yet despite the progress of the recent past, gay men still find themselves asking, "Are we really better off?" The inevitable byproduct of growing up gay in a straight world continues to be the internalization o The gay male world today is characterized by seductive beauty, artful creativity, flamboyant sexuality, and, encouragingly, unprecedented acceptability in society. Yet despite the progress of the recent past, gay men still find themselves asking, "Are we really better off?" The inevitable byproduct of growing up gay in a straight world continues to be the internalization of shame, a shame gay men may strive to obscure with a façade of beauty, creativity, or material success. Drawing on contemporary psychological research, the author's own journey to be free of anger and of shame, as well as the stories of many of his friends and clients, The Velvet Rage outlines the three distinct stages to emotional well-being for gay men. Offering profoundly beneficial strategies to stop the insidious cycle of avoidance and self-defeating behavior, The Velvet Rage is an empowering book that will influence the public discourse on gay culture, and positively change the lives of gay men who read it.

30 review for The Velvet Rage: Overcoming the Pain of Growing Up Gay in a Straight Man's World

  1. 5 out of 5

    Hannah Greendale

    The Velvet Rage provides a three-stage model for the journey gay men are encouraged to take in order to (i) embrace their sexuality, (ii) acknowledge what habits or addictions they rely on to compensate for insecurity; and (iii) discover a life of authenticity and subsequently enjoy healthy relationships. The experience of being a gay man in the twenty-first century is different than any other minority, sexual orientation, gender, or culture grouping. [. . .] Our lives are a unique blending of t The Velvet Rage provides a three-stage model for the journey gay men are encouraged to take in order to (i) embrace their sexuality, (ii) acknowledge what habits or addictions they rely on to compensate for insecurity; and (iii) discover a life of authenticity and subsequently enjoy healthy relationships. The experience of being a gay man in the twenty-first century is different than any other minority, sexual orientation, gender, or culture grouping. [. . .] Our lives are a unique blending of testosterone and gentleness, hyper-sexuality and delicate sensuality, rugged masculinity and refined gentility. There is no other group quite like that of gay men. Alan Downs, Ph. D is a clinical psychologist. As a gay man himself, he brings a level of understanding to the subject matter that a straight author could not. Relying on personal experience and years of counseling gay men and gay couples, he penned The Velvet Rage to assist men with letting go of shameful feelings about their sexuality they may be unaware of harboring. The ultimate goal of his book is to help gay men embrace a lifestyle that is healthy and fulfilling. The first stage of the author's three-stage model is "Overwhelmed by Shame" and explores the period of time when many gay men remain "in the closet" and keep their sexuality hidden because of fear. He brings to light a powerful correlation between a father's love and a gay man's ability to accept his own sexual identity. Of all the invalidation we will receive in our lives, this is by far the most damaging. The first man that we love - arguably the man we will love the most in our life - is incapable of validating us at a time when we need it most. It is emotional betrayal of the worst sort. The wound created by this betrayal will go on to affect us throughout most of our lives. This section tackles self-hatred and feelings of shame, citing the dangers of inhibited emotions. Such hidden emotions, left unacknowledged or unchecked, can have disastrous results. Suicide among gay men in stage one is shockingly common. One study found that homosexual (whether out or not) males account for more than half of male youth suicide attempts. Stage two is "Compensating for Shame" and explains how some gay men attempt to subdue feelings of shame by striving to be more successful, fabulous, masculine, or attractive than the people around them. Once we leave stage one and are no longer shamed by our sexuality, we continue to hold the deeper belief that there is something fundamentally flawed about ourselves. Any person, straight or gay, who grows up in an environment that is essentially invalidating of some core part of themselves such as sexuality, struggles with this deeper shame. Finally, stage three concerns "Discovering Authenticity." Gay men who make it past stage one and two are encouraged to build a life with a foundation based on their passions and values, rather then a need to prove themselves as desirable and lovable. Stage three begins for most gay men with a vague sense of freedom and vacillating awareness of confusion. Everything that is familiar feels somewhat foreign, and there is a growing awareness that life must be slowly redefined in all aspects. Special care is given, in this section, to understanding relationship trauma. According to the author, many gay men wish to overcome their feelings of shame to ultimately find a healthy and loving relationship; therefore, the author provides information to guide readers away from dangerous or traumatic relationships. Toward the end of the book, the author offers ten short lessons to further encourage healthy relationships, such as Lesson #1: Don't let your sexual tastes be the filter for allowing people into your life and Lesson #8: Actively practice accepting your body as it is right now. To be gay in an uncompromisingly straight world is to struggle to find love and, once found, to hold onto it. We are men in a world where men are emotionally disabled by our masculine cultural ideals. And we are men who threaten those ideals by loving another man at a time in life when we are neither equipped for the ravishes of love or the torments of shame. Despite a surprising number of typos and a fair amount of repetition, The Velvet Rage appears to be a helpful guide for gay men looking to acquire self-confidence and healthy relationships, and it effectively raises awareness and understanding in straight readers.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Hani Omar

    I wanted to like this book way more than I did. Downs' broad premise - that gay culture is awash in deeply calcified narcissism - is a valid one, and bears the additional virture of being entirely true. However, like many readers, it became clear to me very early on that I did not fall into this book's target demographic, which has led me to wonder if its scope is much more narrow than many (including the author) realize. There is a white upper middle class American-centricity to Downs' approach I wanted to like this book way more than I did. Downs' broad premise - that gay culture is awash in deeply calcified narcissism - is a valid one, and bears the additional virture of being entirely true. However, like many readers, it became clear to me very early on that I did not fall into this book's target demographic, which has led me to wonder if its scope is much more narrow than many (including the author) realize. There is a white upper middle class American-centricity to Downs' approach, an outlook perhaps shaped by Downs' drawing most his interviews for this book from clients of his LA practice. While it's entirely possible that he uses a sliding scale, therapy is prohibitively expensive for most people and then usually not covered by health insurance. I imagine this may have skewed his samples sample somewhat, as the reader winds up being guided by Downs through a world of high-achieving, feminized, outsized personalities hosting fabulous dinner parties in Malibu, guided all throughout by the minorly irritating usage of the first person plural (you can only put up with so much of the word "we" if it's being consistently applied to experiences that lay very far outside your own). Not all gay men grow up to become Simon Doonan, who I presume to be a lovely individual. But not all gay men will struggle in the ways that Downs portrays here either (as many commentors have rightly pointed out). And it is also true (and probably most important to say) that many gay men will struggle mightily for reasons that go completely unaddressed by Downs throughout this book, and that one could easily imagine simply aren't perceived by many of the individuals whose personal lives he depicts. There are some diamonds in the rough here and there (the pathology of the need to conform, being validated for pretense, etc.) but there's a noticeable dearth of cultural competency here that undercuts the more critical insights Downs tries to make. An Amazon reviewer (not me) hit it on the head by saying, "if someone living in rural America or inner city America or Islamic America or Bible-belt America or outside of America is looking for some guidance in coping with the shame and low self-esteem and death threats that are weighing him down, he may want to look elsewhere."

  3. 5 out of 5

    Corey Fry

    this book gave me chills because i've never felt an author hit so close to the mark with his description of gay male psychological development. i couldn't have read this at a better time and i am eternally grateful to the author. my only caveat is to take from it what you will. i think as gay males in our twenties and thirties, we might have a different developmental arc than the gay male generation ahead of us, for which this book seems to be written. however, the fundamental truths still exist this book gave me chills because i've never felt an author hit so close to the mark with his description of gay male psychological development. i couldn't have read this at a better time and i am eternally grateful to the author. my only caveat is to take from it what you will. i think as gay males in our twenties and thirties, we might have a different developmental arc than the gay male generation ahead of us, for which this book seems to be written. however, the fundamental truths still exist and i found them to be very helpful. it was therapy in a book and i loved it.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Okey

    While I somewhat relate to his message I had to question (a) his methodology and (b) his not-unrelated narrowness of view and sweeping generalisations. Regarding (a) I think there's a serious lack of statistics to back up his statements - he relies on readers being convinced by the familiar sound of the problems he describes, and on their being disarmed by the idea that they aren't alone in suffering those problems, which I think is quite dodgy. And then (b) yes, he does acknowledge that he can While I somewhat relate to his message I had to question (a) his methodology and (b) his not-unrelated narrowness of view and sweeping generalisations. Regarding (a) I think there's a serious lack of statistics to back up his statements - he relies on readers being convinced by the familiar sound of the problems he describes, and on their being disarmed by the idea that they aren't alone in suffering those problems, which I think is quite dodgy. And then (b) yes, he does acknowledge that he can only write knowledgeably about the G in LGBT, and yes he acknowledges that he draws on the experiences of his patients for this... But given that all of the patients who can or will access his therapy seem to be rich, white, college-educated men, can he really claim to have written with any kind of representative insight into 'the gay experience'? What about the isolation, rejection and exoticisation suffered by non-white people at the hands of a gay community that is (for reasons Dr Downs in fact describes but does not connect to this) too often short-sighted and narrow-minded? What about working class or non-college-educated men - how relevant is 'Letting Go of Fabulous' when this notion of 'fabulousness' was only ever accessible to a minority of gay men? Or are we to believe that all gay men sublimate their rage with fabulous parties, high-flying careers at Hewlett-Packard and expensive drugs? Another otherwise-interesting step away from bigotry fails to take into account all but the middle-class white figure (c.f. much feminist writing and activism), and this is disappointing. Still, though, a very important book and in many ways useful.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jeremy

    This is kind of at the intersection of 2 genres I seldom read: non-fiction about LGBT issues, and popular psychology. The former genre is something I've just never paid much attention to, the latter is something I've actively ignored from my own snobby contempt (I still remember rolling my eyes every afternoon as a kid when my mom would put on Oprah). Anyway, the basic underlying assumption of this book-- that gay men specifically have a spate of psychological issues which follow them throughout This is kind of at the intersection of 2 genres I seldom read: non-fiction about LGBT issues, and popular psychology. The former genre is something I've just never paid much attention to, the latter is something I've actively ignored from my own snobby contempt (I still remember rolling my eyes every afternoon as a kid when my mom would put on Oprah). Anyway, the basic underlying assumption of this book-- that gay men specifically have a spate of psychological issues which follow them throughout the full duration of their lives, not from being gay, but from everything around being gay, i.e. hiding a part of yourself, the sense of woundedness and insecurity and shame and confusion and really, just intense anger which that hiding brings on, and which is NOT addressed or remedied or really in anyway even sincerely acknowledged even after most gay men come out of the closet... that basic premise, is in my opinion, valid. What Downs is pointing to in this book is the numerous ways that those dark, deeply embedded emotions can well up throughout a gay man's life (even in the lives of guys who have been out for decades and who have very seemingly happy, succesful lives) in ways which are destructive both to himself and to those around him. To be sure, this is a hopelessly essentialist view of gay life (more on that in a bit), yet, speaking as a gay man, I found that the early parts of the book, which describe some of the major emotional swings which young gay men move through, to be frighteningly and I mean FRIGHTENINGLY accurate, especially describing what it's like emotionally for most males up to the time when they completely realize they are gay. There were moments when reading this I physically shuddered being reminded of what it's like to be deeply in denial and profoundly closeted, as much to yourself as to the world around you. The first third of this is going to probably be a deeply insightful but also deeply unfun trip down memory lane for most young gay men who read it. Unfortunately, the second two parts of the book, which recount the "stages" (it wouldn't be pop psychology without "stages" would it?) which out gay men go through becomes far too narrow a descriptive filter, at least in my opinion. I can maybe, maaaaaybe buy the idea that the psychological experience for most (probably not all) guys being a kid and growing up in the closet at least has a few common emotional themes which you could reasonably generalize about. Maybe. But life is just vastly more complicated than his cute little 3 stage schema, and there are profound cultural and socio-economic pressures which obviously can't really be hinted at in a work like this. In fact, the socio-economic (really, the generational) issue of this book is probably the strongest mark against it. Downs himself has had a lucrative, deeply successful career, in the corporate world (he's an 80's child, afterall), as a therapist and as a writer, even when in the throws of personal tragedy as he reveals in the books kind of obnoxious pseudo-memoirish final chapter. Downs is a high priced therapist for "powergays;" gay men who have a lot of disposable income to burn, who own multiple houses stocked with nice things and who take regular vacations to exotic locales. This is obviously a cliche, but almost every "story" and example in his book features gay men who are, from the point of view of an educated gay millennial currently struggling to find a career path that will even pay a humane wage, so obscenely well-off as to be almost repulsive, and Downs himself reinforces the idea of this obscene wealth on almost every page. It's almost like he's gloating at the rarified social circles he travels in and the high powered management and exective types that he treats. Obviously, a lot of that is generational; this book feels like it was written by someone for whom the last 10-15 years of socio-economic history in this country simply never happened to. I can't imagine someone in his position even realizing that many young gay men in this country will probably never be able to afford to purchase a single home, much less multiple ones in sheik locales. His sheer inability to consider any outside factor in his analysis of what plagues gay men is of course a necessity of the genre he's writing in, but it's also just so incredibly limited and so patently ignorant of how our countries socio-economic insecurity can contribute to individual insecurity, especially for young gay men (who as he smartly points out, aren't generally the most secure people to begin with) is a depressing omission. Parts of his observations are brilliant and scathing, but enough of it seems so utterly out of touch with modern American socio-economics, really with any kind of material consideration for the generation of gay men who are coming up behind him, and who have a litany of economic anxieties to worry about on top of all the dense psychological baggage of being gay, that the book ultimately fails to persuade very much once it gets past "stage 1." Forget finding the gay Oprah, what we need is the gay Karl Marx.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Cale Dietrich

    Honestly one of the most powerful and thought provoking books I’ve ever read. Certainly one of the most important nonfiction books of my life, and I say that after just finishing it. I’m not sure I exactly agree with *everything* in it – the worldview of the author can seem really bleak at times, but a lot of this genuinely struck home for me and the whole thing really made me think deeply. I honestly think this is a book all gay men should read. Actually everyone should read this, as I think it Honestly one of the most powerful and thought provoking books I’ve ever read. Certainly one of the most important nonfiction books of my life, and I say that after just finishing it. I’m not sure I exactly agree with *everything* in it – the worldview of the author can seem really bleak at times, but a lot of this genuinely struck home for me and the whole thing really made me think deeply. I honestly think this is a book all gay men should read. Actually everyone should read this, as I think it will grant everyone a better understanding of what it’s really like to be gay. Absolutely phenomenal and truly life changing.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    As self-help books go (and I will admit that I am not a fan of the genre), The Velvet Rage is actually quite good. The problematic issue with many self-help books is that the underlying philosophy (or approach, or methodology, or treatment, etc.) is based on the assumption that everyone who reads the book is suffering with or struggling with the same condition (e.g., obesity, addiction, unhealthy relationship). This kind of essentializing or pathologizing of a condition usually results in overly As self-help books go (and I will admit that I am not a fan of the genre), The Velvet Rage is actually quite good. The problematic issue with many self-help books is that the underlying philosophy (or approach, or methodology, or treatment, etc.) is based on the assumption that everyone who reads the book is suffering with or struggling with the same condition (e.g., obesity, addiction, unhealthy relationship). This kind of essentializing or pathologizing of a condition usually results in overly generic (i.e., pretty much useless) strategies for correcting the condition. This book, however, is based on a more solid foundation—the belief that most gay men face similar challenges during the course of their development. These challenges result in deep-seated shame that often precludes any ability to maintain healthy, loving adult relationships with other men. And on this point, Dr. Downs pretty much gets it right. I recognized more of myself than I care to admit in Downs’ descriptions of men crippled by a shame that dooms any attempt at a loving relationship with another man. The book is therapeutic and enlightening without being overly patronizing. In other words, Downs explains how and why our contemporary culture (20th century America, to be exact) makes it well-nigh impossible for a gay man to grow up as a healthy, self-actualized person, yet he does not excuse any of us for our failure to overcome these obstacles. He uses clear, frank language and relates anecdotes from his private practice to illustrate the various ways in which gay men sabotage their own relationships. (Unfortunately, Downs’ practice seems limited to middle-class or upper middle-class white men, so there is not much diversity within the stories he tells. We do not get, for example, a clear idea of what it might be like to grow up poor and gay or black and gay or Latino and gay or Asian and gay…). More importantly, he offers practical, specific advice for overcoming the various stages of shame many of us grew up with. Downs never explicitly draws the comparison, but the shame-redemption process he describes seems to closely parallel the coming out process in general. And for many gay men, coming out is merely the first step on the long road toward mental, emotional health and self-acceptance.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Conor

    The other day, as we were sitting around the office trying to be thoughtful about trans rights legal guidance for the city, a moment of levity transpired. Someone said that someone else who had been involved in the drafting had said, "Don't LGBTQ people want gender and sex to be conflated?" And without wading into the practical and theoretical morass of that debate, I'm glad we could laugh it off, because though I admire our unfortunately rare moments of solidarity and I hope for more allyship-- The other day, as we were sitting around the office trying to be thoughtful about trans rights legal guidance for the city, a moment of levity transpired. Someone said that someone else who had been involved in the drafting had said, "Don't LGBTQ people want gender and sex to be conflated?" And without wading into the practical and theoretical morass of that debate, I'm glad we could laugh it off, because though I admire our unfortunately rare moments of solidarity and I hope for more allyship--surely there are few groups more heterogenous than the LGBTQ community! And that is only marginally less true of gay men, a group that has lots in common but, by virtue of our diaspora, so very much that sets our microunits apart from one another. So I had trouble with this book at times, because it treats gay men as if we fall into one to three archetypes for any given complex problem: things like emotional unavailability, disparities in sex drive, substance abuse, etc. etc. Worse still, the lawyer in me balks at any sufficiently squishy and unfounded bugbear like "shame" being the villain behind it all. I probably wouldn't even understand their source material, but I want citations, damnit! So I approached this book with skepticism. But it is possessed of quite a lot of wisdom, as well. I just don't know how peculiar it is to gay men, but I could be in the minority here--lots of folks really enjoy it, have rated it highly, and seem to have grown materially because of its narrative. And I begrudge them none of that, I just didn't quite find it myself.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    The quick review: the book is targeted toward gay men, but it’s a worthwhile read if you have any interest in reflection, self-help culture, and even philosophy (if that seems grandiose, just remember that philosophy includes the search for meaning and happiness, whether it's Aristotle or a hippy dippy secular guru doing the philosophising). It’s not as ordered as it could be, it is more than a bit new-agey, but if you can get over that there’s more than a little here. And as a side note: if all The quick review: the book is targeted toward gay men, but it’s a worthwhile read if you have any interest in reflection, self-help culture, and even philosophy (if that seems grandiose, just remember that philosophy includes the search for meaning and happiness, whether it's Aristotle or a hippy dippy secular guru doing the philosophising). It’s not as ordered as it could be, it is more than a bit new-agey, but if you can get over that there’s more than a little here. And as a side note: if all of those right wingers who point towards risky behavior in the gay community are really concerned for gay men’s health, spiritual and otherwise, they may consider getting the other side’s perspective rather than merely thumping their bibles, etc. The Velvet Rage jumps off from the reality that, while it is wonderful that gay rights have made so many strides in the past 100 years, mental health problems still affect a disproportionate number of gay men (in this sense the title is a little misleading; it's not just about velvet rage, but also velvet depression, velvet hyper-sexuality, and velvet long term relationship problems). If you want to approach these problems rationally, you need to look for a root cause; along the way you just might find that this root cause could explain more than a few other things about gay men. (rigorously speaking, Downs isn't being very scientific once he gets past the data about gay men's health problems; in addition to the fact that he's a therapist who specializes in treating gay men, and so is more likely than most to see many extreme cases of gay men beset by mental health issues, one senses that he is often writing about his own journey from denial to chasing extrinsic motivators to an eventual sense of passion and contentment). Boiling it down to the simplest possible terms, Downs posits that shame is the root of gay men's mental health issues. It's easy to see this when you think about the closet case, a man who denies his own sexuality. It's a little more noteworthy that Downs thinks the flamboyantly living, out-of-the-closet case is also motivated by a sense of shame; in his case he has accepted certain aspects of his sexuality, but still feels a sort of void, a sense that he is imperfect and must compensate for that imperfection. (I have to say that Downs tries to have it both ways here; his pride at the accomplishments of gay men is palpable, and yet he also seem to suggest that the drive to succeed is a sort of pathology). Thus the stereotype of the gay man who is highly strung, tasteful to a fault, and wont to blow up at the slightest imperfection, either in work or in his relationship (I feel like it is also possible to find this personality type in the straight population, and you could argue that this sense of perfectionism is a good thing, but that's neither here nor there). Downs argues that a man who has left these two stages behind is ready to honestly look for authentic relationships that correspond with a sense of intrinsic value. While the details of the internal conversion (and it is a kind of conversion experience) are a bit fuzzy, a gay man in Downs' third stage has managed flip the switch on his shame and look at himself honestly. One of the most interesting aspects of the book is Downs' observation that young gay men naturally look to the most visible, flamboyant members of the gay community as models; beyond the possibility that these people are more likely to engage in risky behavior, there's a greater chance that they will be in Downs' stage two, and so be unhappy themselves; to emulate someone who is himself keyed to external motivators and not an internal sense of worth is to perpetuate the cycle. It is unfortunate that older, well-adjusted gay men in stable long term relationships tend to stick out less. My reaction to the book is that, while being gay seems to emphasize certain aspects of the journey and to make the path a little more dangerous for a gay man, the trip writ large is something that most people, gay or straight, take. Don't we all want to work and to love in a network of authentic relationships? Aren't we all, at some point, enchanted by external things—easy money, a cool look, a trophy—that look a little shallow in retrospect? Don't we all face a moment in which we have to look for things and activities that are inexplicably, powerfully meaningful for us, not because everyone else in our community feels that way, but because of who we are? In the biggest perspective, the picture doesn't look so different for any of us. And really it's a pretty wonderful thing if gay people and straight people can realize that we're much more similar than we are different.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Chris Colman

    I'm conflicted on this book. While I could relate to many of the author's points on gay shame and how it affects us, I struggled with the position from which the author was writing. Early on, the author puts forth a homogenous view of the gay experience, one that oftentimes seemed moneyed and white. With practically every example the author employs, there's mention of fabulous wealth, executive careers, and many other hallmarks of affluence that I just couldn't relate to in my experience. Early I'm conflicted on this book. While I could relate to many of the author's points on gay shame and how it affects us, I struggled with the position from which the author was writing. Early on, the author puts forth a homogenous view of the gay experience, one that oftentimes seemed moneyed and white. With practically every example the author employs, there's mention of fabulous wealth, executive careers, and many other hallmarks of affluence that I just couldn't relate to in my experience. Early on, I had doubts whether or not this book could be applicable to me, given that my experience as a gay man differed so much from the experience the author painted. I know the author was writing based on the experiences he's had with his clients, and those clients may've been very well-off, but there was just something extremely off-putting with the constant mention of wealth and high gay society. If you can get past the myopic examples the author uses to illustrate the book, there really is a lot here for every gay man to read and learn from. I won't go into the positives here, since I'm sure other reviews have praised them better than I ever will. I just wanted to share why I had such mixed feelings about this book, despite the excellent food for thought that it provides.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Dana Sweeney

    Not for me. For starters, this book was more self-help than sociology, which I wasn’t expecting. I picked it up because I have seen or heard it described as a classic text in LGBTQ literature, and for queer men specifically. I wasn’t what I hoped for, but by virtue of its self-help style, it was still sometimes practical. It was, at turns, deeply insightful and helpful — there were dozens of times while reading that I felt a deep sense of recognition or lingered over a particular piece of concret Not for me. For starters, this book was more self-help than sociology, which I wasn’t expecting. I picked it up because I have seen or heard it described as a classic text in LGBTQ literature, and for queer men specifically. I wasn’t what I hoped for, but by virtue of its self-help style, it was still sometimes practical. It was, at turns, deeply insightful and helpful — there were dozens of times while reading that I felt a deep sense of recognition or lingered over a particular piece of concrete advice that I really needed. The author is a clinical psychologist, and some of his deconstructions of & processing through traumas specific to queer men were really revelatory and clarifying. That’s about the extent of the positive things that I have to say, though, and I don’t think it salvages this book. The glaring flaw in the book is the author’s assumption of a monolithic Gay Man. He speaks in universal “we” terms, talks about “our” shared experiences and struggles, makes ultimatums about “our” stages of personal and emotional development, and offers examples that “we” (as queer men) must relate to, about how “our” defining experience of discrimination and oppression is our sexuality. But it’s ridiculous. The archetypal Gay Man at the center of the whole book is clearly white, urban, coastal, and affluent. I laughed out loud at some of the broad and stereotypical claims made about queer men in the text, like where there are meditations on the psychology of why “we” throw lavish dinner parties attended by celebrities where “we” are rude to our caterers, why “we” take luxury vacations all the time, why “we” collect and produce fine art, why “we” are sassy and loud and over the top, why “we” are all compelled to spend half our lives at the gym trying to become Adonis himself. If the author wasn’t a gay man, I would honestly describe these flimsy, stereotypical depictions of queer life as low-grade homophobia. Sure they apply in varying combinations to some queer men, but the degree to which the author standardizes these qualities, behaviors, and privileges as The Gay Experience is preposterously myopic. It’s nonsense, and it promotes the White Gayze and the myth of gay affluence. The author states that he draws his sweeping conclusions about The Gay Experience from his clients — all of whom happen to live in Beverly Hills, California, and can afford regular therapy sessions with an elite counselor. Like? What? Anyways. Glad I read it because I keep seeing it everywhere, and also because there are some general insights that were useful, but mostly I’m disappointed and irritated by this silly framing of the most privileged and visible queer men as the standard by which all queer men can be understood. Next.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Evan Oare

    While I started reading this book believing it was telling me exactly what I needed to hear, the effect quickly wore off as the book progressed to be obviously addressed to a slightly different audience. The book panders to well-to-do gay men who are well on their in years who are looking in retrospect over their lives. While I still found many of the lessons helpful whether or not they have applied to me already or might in the future, the constant anecdotes about men who have everything (ultra While I started reading this book believing it was telling me exactly what I needed to hear, the effect quickly wore off as the book progressed to be obviously addressed to a slightly different audience. The book panders to well-to-do gay men who are well on their in years who are looking in retrospect over their lives. While I still found many of the lessons helpful whether or not they have applied to me already or might in the future, the constant anecdotes about men who have everything (ultra-successful career, high social standing, etc.) was a bit obnoxious. But then again, these are the people who can afford to pay Dr. Dowds to be their sounding board, and are more likely to have the leisure/money to pick up myriad titles such as this. A little more inclusiveness would have been nice; seems economic considerations drove the writing of this book a little too much.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Stephen Bird

    I was looking for a therapist and during one consultation this book was recommended to me. This work addresses problems that are classically inherent to gay men: body fascism, objectification, perfectionism, inauthenticity, "instamacy", abuse / self-abuse, shame. The author is at his best when focusing on the clinical aspects / analysis of the particular gay male subject is being discussed. In general -- This work is a very fast read. When I arrived in NYC in the fall of 1980, promiscuity was the I was looking for a therapist and during one consultation this book was recommended to me. This work addresses problems that are classically inherent to gay men: body fascism, objectification, perfectionism, inauthenticity, "instamacy", abuse / self-abuse, shame. The author is at his best when focusing on the clinical aspects / analysis of the particular gay male subject is being discussed. In general -- This work is a very fast read. When I arrived in NYC in the fall of 1980, promiscuity was the norm and rampant -- That's how I was introduced to gay life. I was relatively innocent and inexperienced; at first I was frightened by the gay bars. I was in over my head and I found many aspects of the cruising / pick up scenes to be overwhelming. The AIDS crisis arrived shortly thereafter, which in my case, amounted to living life in a state of fear. As a person who's sought out "harm reduction" by means of therapy, group therapy and 12 Step groups over the years -- I recognize that much of what Alan Downs, PhD recommends within this tome is derived from the 12 Step method. Mainly the idea of acceptance and how acceptance, when used as a tool, can change one's life; or from a Buddhist perspective -- Seeking "detachment"; learning to let go. "The Velvet Rage" also deconstructs the profound effect of shame, and how by refusing to let go of shame -- One ends up being inauthentic. Many of the gay men described in this book also suffer from a problem that I can relate to; one that causes tremendous existential angst-- That being the "inability to discern between, love, sex and affection". A major weakness of this book, that has been commented on extensively in other reviews, is its tendency to focus on a particular type of gay man -- the capable, confident, fast lane, fast track to success kind of guy who jumps form one city, and or apartment, to the next; the "glistening" phoney who'll hang on your every word -- Just to drop you like a hot potato. Although I've observed many of these types of men from afar, the queer men I've know have never been as driven or privileged as those described in this work. Thus at certain times while reading this text and searching for the common ground / attempting to empathize -- I couldn't help feeling like an "outsider among outsiders". It's unfortunate that gay men can be cruel to one another; omnipresent rainbow flags notwithstanding, this lack of mutual empathy among queer men is the downside of the "rapier wit" that Dr. Downs references in this book. Sex for its own sake (more likely for "men of a certain age" like myself) often becomes more trouble than it's worth. Ultimately, after reading this text, I'm faced once again with the same questions that I encounter when seeking whatever method of "self-improvement": Does a gray area between "fast track party animal" and "morally superior reformed sinner" actually exist? How does one find "contentment" without turning into a veritable saint? ..... I'm still not sure.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Matt John

    Alan Downs, Ph.D. is a California licensed clinical psychologist who specialises in Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), gay men’s issues, and psychological assessment. Using his own experiences and those of his patients (names changed), Downs defines what all gay men deal with - shame. Downs theorises that this shame is born out of being different (ie gay) in a heterosexual world and it this shame which causes many gay men to be the superficial, spiteful and non-commited persons that fit the ste Alan Downs, Ph.D. is a California licensed clinical psychologist who specialises in Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), gay men’s issues, and psychological assessment. Using his own experiences and those of his patients (names changed), Downs defines what all gay men deal with - shame. Downs theorises that this shame is born out of being different (ie gay) in a heterosexual world and it this shame which causes many gay men to be the superficial, spiteful and non-commited persons that fit the stereotype. Downs suggests that this is only a stage of which many gay men get stuck on and must work hard to move beyond. A very easy read, written in the first person, and also interesting in light of some recent dissertations that gay men are meant to exist in their own bubble, within their own "community" (see Dennis Altman). Downs suggests that gay men do not need to be sleeping around, in a series of short-term and highly volatile or living week to week spending all their money on outrageous things - but can be secure in themselves to live a comfortable lifestyle - without loosing a sense of who they are.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Bobby Simic

    Psychologist Alan Downs believes gay men have an inherent form of shame because of a lack of acceptance from our straight male-dominated society. Because of this shame, we've adapted, suppressing certain behaviors, adding others and seeking validation, in order to overcompensate for our percepted faults and to be better welcomed into society. According to him, gay men often feel unfulfilled because we've lost our "true self," and this has repercussions in our relationships and other endeavors. I Psychologist Alan Downs believes gay men have an inherent form of shame because of a lack of acceptance from our straight male-dominated society. Because of this shame, we've adapted, suppressing certain behaviors, adding others and seeking validation, in order to overcompensate for our percepted faults and to be better welcomed into society. According to him, gay men often feel unfulfilled because we've lost our "true self," and this has repercussions in our relationships and other endeavors. It's only when we accept our lot in life and lose the shame and pretense will we ever be able to find happiness and satisfication. Enlightening if a little daunting (and depressing), Downs argues his case clearly, using psychobabble and jargon but interspersing it with easy-to-understand explanations and real-life examples. There are a suprising amount of typos throughout, but that shouldn't take away from the author's message - a message that would benefit more gay men, I think, if they chose to read it.

  16. 4 out of 5

    João Vaz

    Good good insights, I couldn't really relate with most of it but at least one learns what to avoid. BUT! I sometimes felt as though I was watching a National Geographic documentary: the gay man when at stage three does tarara, the gay man goes and hunts lol Then there's this last part of the book on how to reinvent yourself to be better, self-help that is! I was bored to distraction. So I just thought: skimming throughhhh!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Michael Kage

    Great book. Really isolates the average experience of the gay male in our society. While not every topic will apply to every gay male, the author acknowledges this, it does ring true at some level in nearly all gay males I know who have read it. Also, there is valuable knowledge for straight men and women also who wish to better understand their gay counterparts.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kylan

    A friend recommendation and good to read over again. Some of the messages are simple but it's usually those simple messages that become lost in life. I certainly relearned a few skills.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Alex Grigoriev

    Brilliantly insightful.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Greg Thorpe

    I read the first half with great interest and plenty of recognition. I underlined many heavily relatable descriptions of the shame/rage spiral that I have experienced. I haven't ever fully faced the shame of being an effeminate bullied kid, he is so on the money about that process, but I did lots of work on the rage and self-worth bit in my 30s. Lots of that was to do with supporting/being supported by a queer community which seems utterly absent from his world. I see where he is going and I can I read the first half with great interest and plenty of recognition. I underlined many heavily relatable descriptions of the shame/rage spiral that I have experienced. I haven't ever fully faced the shame of being an effeminate bullied kid, he is so on the money about that process, but I did lots of work on the rage and self-worth bit in my 30s. Lots of that was to do with supporting/being supported by a queer community which seems utterly absent from his world. I see where he is going and I can see from the reviews how helpful it has been to some people but I speed-read the last half because there is simply too much of a generational and cultural gap for me to persist, and that's just a difference of worlds I guess. I kept laughing at all the mention of endless circuit parties and endless property buying and the explosions of rage at 'imperfectly catered brunches'. Does nobody write, or make art, or have to work three jobs, or take care of a kid? He uses a very narrow, bourgeois, white, status-driven model of the gay man persistently, which is a shame because the shame/rage model can just as easily apply to all kinds of queer men include those on income support or with agoraphobia or a low sex drive or who are living in a celebrated fat body etc etc, you know, NORMAL people, for whom this dazzling world sounds like something off a basic Netflix-for-gays TV show.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Morgan Blackledge

    Oh god what a life affirming and inspirational book. It's ironic that many men, gay and straight alike, will be diverted from reading this healing, insight engendering book, simply out of fear. It's sad that many women may not feel drawn to this liberating and empowering book because it's about men. A lot of people will even avoid this review out of fear and shame. And that is such a shame. Because this book is a thing of beauty, intelligence and excellence (all things commonly associated with ga Oh god what a life affirming and inspirational book. It's ironic that many men, gay and straight alike, will be diverted from reading this healing, insight engendering book, simply out of fear. It's sad that many women may not feel drawn to this liberating and empowering book because it's about men. A lot of people will even avoid this review out of fear and shame. And that is such a shame. Because this book is a thing of beauty, intelligence and excellence (all things commonly associated with gayness). And it is also full of authentic clarity, wisdom, inspiration, hope, compassion and healing (all things we all so urgently need, now more than ever). God Bless the Child: Dr. Alan Downs begins this book with an honest discussion about gay children. He observes that many people become uncomfortable with the subject of gay children due to a false conflation of adult sexuality and gayness. He asserts that every straight man was a straight child, with all of the identity affirmation that accompanies a straight childhood, including the blanket assumption that you will play with toy trucks and grow up to like girls. Dr. Downs elaborates that every gay man was a gay child, with all of the identity invalidation that accompanies those same assumptions, and with the additional subtle and overt slander and rejection that we regularly subject gay children to, particularly when they don't conform to expectations of heterosexuality. Internalized Homophobia and Shame: Dr. Downs' hypothesizes that, as children and later in adolescence, many (if not all) gay men faced exposure to horrendous slander and rejection by the men they most admired and loved, beginning with their fathers, and continuing with their family, peers and society at large. It is a fairly incontrovertible claim of developmental psychology, that a young person who is exposed to abuse and neglect is at exceedingly high risk for internalizing their maltreatment in the form of deeply held beliefs/assumptions that they are the unworthy of love, that their care takers will not be there for them, and that the world is fundamentally unsafe unless they remain vigilant, and conceal, conform, improve or otherwise change who they are. Dr. Downs asserts that the wounding rejection gay men face from every direction, at critical periods of development, can dominate their lives from within, in the form of self rejection and overwhelming shame. Foreclosure and the Crisis Of Meaning: Dr. Downs asserts that this pervasive toxic shame drives many gay men to compensate in ways that may ultimately deprive them of genuine meaning and contentment. In other words, the common gay male quest to find solace and validation in sex, partying, and in externalities such as achievement, money and life style leave many gay men feeling empty at later stages of life. The Road to Contentment: Dr. Downs posits that resolving this crisis of meaning is about honest and radical authenticity and acceptance, resulting in liberation from the need to "guild shame with the extraordinary." Dr. Downs observes that the road to contentment is paved with passion, love and integrity. Passion: Dr. Downs defines passion in terms of qualities of living and being that engender vitality and give life a sense of direction and meaningful purpose. Dr. Downs posits that becoming emotionally alive is necessary in order to awaken to our authentic passion for living. In other words, we have to feel our feelings (pleasant and painful) in order to know what's important. We have to feel our authentic feelings in order to know if we're going in the right direction or not. For those of us that have resorted to escape, dissociation or numbing in order to survive our youth (or some other ordeal), and for those of us who developed acute sensitivity to the slightest signs of rejection out of utter existential necessity, we will need to practice feeling our authentic feelings with acceptance and mindfull intentionality in order to gain real emotional clarity and freedom. Love: Dr. Downs opines that radical self acceptance and love is a prerequisite condition for recovery from self rejection and shame. You can't hate yourself forward. For those of us that believe we are functional only because we drive or selves like slaves. Imagine trying to teach and motivate a child with violence and cruelty, as opposed to unconditionally loving support and guidance. For those of us that have internalized harshly negative, disparaging beliefs about or selves, our worthiness of love, and our rightful place in this world, we must practice radical self acceptance, compassion and love in order to simply feel at ease, let alone achieve real excellence and authentic contentment. Integrity: Dr. Downs challenges gay men to live with integrity. To live life in a way that is congruent with their authentic values and needs. For all of us who have sacrificed our self care, or bent ourselves to conform to another's way, or submitted to the wounding injunctions of a cruel, ignorant or indifferent authority, or otherwise acted in conflict with our authentic core values, or simply out of fear, or lack of clarity, we must intentionally identify and bravely pursue lives of real meaning, vitality, liberation and (if you ask me) service. In Conclusion: I am confident that there is something essential and good for everyone in this powerful book. I can't recommend it enough. Particularly in these fearful, hopeful times. Five stars*****

  22. 4 out of 5

    Brian

    This was a mixed bag for me. While reading The Velvet Rage I oscillated between reflection and deep annoyance. I think the message of the book is important even if the package it comes in is indefensibly flawed. On the bright side, the discussion of toxic shame/rage and the path towards authenticity and acceptance that Alan Downs describes resonated with me and there is a lot of hard won insight and wisdom to be found in this book. I can easily see how this book has been helpful to a lot of peopl This was a mixed bag for me. While reading The Velvet Rage I oscillated between reflection and deep annoyance. I think the message of the book is important even if the package it comes in is indefensibly flawed. On the bright side, the discussion of toxic shame/rage and the path towards authenticity and acceptance that Alan Downs describes resonated with me and there is a lot of hard won insight and wisdom to be found in this book. I can easily see how this book has been helpful to a lot of people and I applaud its positive impact. I particularly enjoyed the final chapter of the book that focuses on describing skills for achieving and maintaining an 'authentic life'. On the dark and gloomy side...I think this book has a lot of issues that lessen its impact and bring down the work overall. My main frustration is that the book attempts to present a generalized gay male psychological journey. This is a fascinating topic, but the attempt is repeatedly undermined by the incredibly narrow focus of the examples used throughout the book. In between descriptions of psychological theory and ideas Downs relies primarily on anecdotes from his West Hollywood patients and his own experience as a gay man to drive home his arguments. This irresponsibly and unnecessarily focuses the book on the predominantly-white upper-middle-class gay male experience during the 1980's through early 2000's in the metropolitan United States. I often felt alienated, baffled or outright annoyed at the stories that Downs leans on. I found a lot of this book read as a lazy, stereotypical portrayal of the gay male experience. Basically every person used as an example is comfortably affluent, has unfailingly good taste, and probably looks/dresses like Brian Kinney from Queer as Folk. I'm disappointed that Downs at no point complicates this image of the gay male experience beyond his own perspective. To be clear, the experiences of Downs and his clients are certainly relevant and legitimate, but that they're the only examples used to extrapolate and arrive at a generalized theory of gay male self-actualization is laughable (and pissed me off endlessly). I've wondered if the book is simply outdated, but as it was published in 2005 and updated in 2012 I'm not willing to give it that out. Though Downs' rampant extrapolating is my biggest issue, I have other complaints as well. The book is much more interested in using personal anecdotes to support its arguments than referring to research (though there are sporadic references to studies). I also found the writing to be repetitious and the book felt padded as a result. Finally I have an issue that I know isn't exactly fair, but I listened to this book as an audiobook and Downs narrates the book himself. Not everyone has a voice suited for narrating and I found the narration to be a tad monotone and too soothing (better suited for narrating a meditation exercise than a multi-hour book). Despite its many issues I still finished the book. I do think the three-step path to self-acceptance that Downs describes has value for queer men, but I can't recommend The Velvet Rage as its flaws are just too frustrating.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Brandon Will

    Downs acknowledges the symptoms and hurts this book describes aren't solely experienced by gayish dudes --but this is a book I wish every GBT dude or anyone who closely interacts with GBT dudes would read. This book is a masterpiece, culled from a lifetime of trying to figure out how to move past hurts, while helping other gay men do the same. Some key points: "We are born into this world helpless, love-starved creatures" who "avoid abandonment at all costs." GBT dudes know they're different from a Downs acknowledges the symptoms and hurts this book describes aren't solely experienced by gayish dudes --but this is a book I wish every GBT dude or anyone who closely interacts with GBT dudes would read. This book is a masterpiece, culled from a lifetime of trying to figure out how to move past hurts, while helping other gay men do the same. Some key points: "We are born into this world helpless, love-starved creatures" who "avoid abandonment at all costs." GBT dudes know they're different from an early age, even though they don't even know what it means. To avoid being singled out, many find a way to make this work: "We couldn't change ourselves, but we could change the way we acted." Those who don't become laughing stocks. As we get older, we're still "driven by those insatiable, infantile drives for love an acceptance." Gay first relationships are basically doomed even more than straight ones. Having had no role models in a young gay man's life of what a male-male relationship is, and can be, both enter into the relationship with a bulk of unresolved issues. Add to that the burning emotion of first love, and everybody is going to get hurt. So GBT dudes live their young to middle-ages lives finding ways to hide from and compensate a large amount of shame and feelings of worthlessness, constantly seeking validation in one way or another -- so much so this often melds with their evolving personality. Downs theorizes that this is why so many gay men excel at what they do, and with flair -- overcompensating becomes a way of life as a fallout from living with deep shame, even when a person thinks they've moved way beyond the shame. There's so much this book teaches, explains, from why gay "cattiness" is so prevalent (covering up hurt, invalidating another to validate the self), to "lessons on being an authentic gay man" like: "Don't let your sexual tastes be the filter for allowing people into your life." Downs has great things to say, and years of research to illustrate. At points reading it, I not only thought of myself, but every other gay dude I've closely known -- shades of truth in this book apply to all.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Steven

    Not everyone can afford to see a therapist, but here is a "self help" book that can really help if one reads it with an open mind. It may terrify some people, because this is one doctor who politely pulls the masks off the Oz-like wizards so many of us gay men wear in order to cope with being gay in "a straight man's world." I recognized myself in these pages;perhaps you will too. My only quibble with the book, and it's minor, is that the author uses the umbrella term "shame" in defining the sta Not everyone can afford to see a therapist, but here is a "self help" book that can really help if one reads it with an open mind. It may terrify some people, because this is one doctor who politely pulls the masks off the Oz-like wizards so many of us gay men wear in order to cope with being gay in "a straight man's world." I recognized myself in these pages;perhaps you will too. My only quibble with the book, and it's minor, is that the author uses the umbrella term "shame" in defining the stages that a gay man must go through to become "authentic" and, one assumes,a happier human being. I think of "shame" as a word associated with religion; is it "shame" or is is "differentism", the uncomfortable state of being different from the majority and reactions to this state? (Maybe it doesn't matter what you call it.) Whatever the case,this book makes it clear that emotional and personal growth for a gay man can be a difficult process, and many remain stuck in stage 1 or 2 of what the doc describes as a 3 phase process.I was able to easily identify where I'm at in the process, and from what I see stages one and two are the more crowded rooms. This a book to be read, digested, and reviewed (particularly the easy to follow chart at the end.)Best of all,Mr.Downs shares his personal struggles and makes it clear he's not talking down to us from some pinnacle of perfection, making it easier to be receptive to this insightful book. Best 50 minutes I ever spent with a therapist...

  25. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Rumbles

    Can we be happy gay men, when the pattern of life thwarts us at every turn? Alan Downs is a clinical psychologist and gay man who wants to help gay men become happier human beings. The Velvet Rage explores the typical stages of growing up and coming out as gay. Alan looks at the shame and rage we overcome as we become out and looks at how we compensate and seek validation as authentic human beings. He quotes examples of men he has worked with throughout the book, which does add life to the text. Can we be happy gay men, when the pattern of life thwarts us at every turn? Alan Downs is a clinical psychologist and gay man who wants to help gay men become happier human beings. The Velvet Rage explores the typical stages of growing up and coming out as gay. Alan looks at the shame and rage we overcome as we become out and looks at how we compensate and seek validation as authentic human beings. He quotes examples of men he has worked with throughout the book, which does add life to the text. Unfortunately all of these examples seem to be negative ones, or snippets with no eventual positive outcome. Alan covers some big issues of self-development and offers some clear strategies all based on honesty and validation of ourselves and the people we associate with. However I struggle with the lack of positive examples who have succeeded at finding happy lives. I will admit there is one positive story provided of a man who settles for running an average restaurant in an average town. This book may be helpful to you but please don’t let its shape your attitude too much as life is much too fun to spend it being depressed.

  26. 5 out of 5

    F. Feeley Jr

    The Velvet Rage- great title. Because I think it's true. We swallow down our anger. Our fear. Our past. We drink and get drunk on it. We let it consume us. And are consumed by it. It's everywhere we look, it's in the lives that we've led. There is an anger there. An injustice. And it's hard to kick against society and taking a step out into ourselves. I found this book to be enlightening. Several times I set it down and thought about past relationships, parental discord, familial discord, feelin The Velvet Rage- great title. Because I think it's true. We swallow down our anger. Our fear. Our past. We drink and get drunk on it. We let it consume us. And are consumed by it. It's everywhere we look, it's in the lives that we've led. There is an anger there. An injustice. And it's hard to kick against society and taking a step out into ourselves. I found this book to be enlightening. Several times I set it down and thought about past relationships, parental discord, familial discord, feeling left behind so to speak because I couldn't stop being gay. Feelings of inadequacies. Insecurities. Some of which were legitimate. I would recommend this book to any of my gay brothers out there who may be finding themselves rolling their eyes at the thought of the idea of being happy. I just wished I'd had it years ago when I came out.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Tucker

    The sole focus is the emotional problems of gay men who act out their internalized shame through sex addiction and drug addiction. The suggestion is that "everyone" is acting out this drama, and, if you are on that kind of scene, I suppose it might seem that way. Of course, not all gay men have these particular problems, and the book would have been more interesting to me had it explored why some people behave this way and others do not. Many people find this a powerful book, nonetheless, and I The sole focus is the emotional problems of gay men who act out their internalized shame through sex addiction and drug addiction. The suggestion is that "everyone" is acting out this drama, and, if you are on that kind of scene, I suppose it might seem that way. Of course, not all gay men have these particular problems, and the book would have been more interesting to me had it explored why some people behave this way and others do not. Many people find this a powerful book, nonetheless, and I think that's because it is unflinching and directly addresses some hard problems that are rarely otherwise talked about in polite society and even among the people who suffer from them. In that respect, it makes an important contribution because the whole problem of shame is that it buries and is buried, and once the shame itself is named and exposed to light, it can be overcome.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Scott

    Interesting. I have a few issues with it. I think the author spent a lot of ink explaining stereotypes instead of questioning them. For example I am not sure that all gay men are actually affluent, successful and generally fabulous. I've never been invited to a single white tie party in Malibu or wherever it was in my entire life, much less hosted one. I think that many gay men are fairly average. I am also quite uncomfortable about his -- what is it?-- assumption or belief -- that life-long rel Interesting. I have a few issues with it. I think the author spent a lot of ink explaining stereotypes instead of questioning them. For example I am not sure that all gay men are actually affluent, successful and generally fabulous. I've never been invited to a single white tie party in Malibu or wherever it was in my entire life, much less hosted one. I think that many gay men are fairly average. I am also quite uncomfortable about his -- what is it?-- assumption or belief -- that life-long relationships are the only good outcome, the only valid lifestyle. He and we all should read Gay and Single...Forever?: 10 Things Every Gay Guy Looking for Love (And Not Finding It) Needs to Know by Steven Bereznai

  29. 5 out of 5

    Wade

    I read this for work, and it provides an intriguing theory about the effects of shame on gay men. While the childhood stuff about fathers, etc. may ring true for a specific number of gay men who grew up in a specific culture-and-time period, I think the author's description of the ways that we internalize and run from shame is a great template for considering a pathway toward more authentic way of life. I'm using it as part of training the interns I work with. What I'd love to know is how much t I read this for work, and it provides an intriguing theory about the effects of shame on gay men. While the childhood stuff about fathers, etc. may ring true for a specific number of gay men who grew up in a specific culture-and-time period, I think the author's description of the ways that we internalize and run from shame is a great template for considering a pathway toward more authentic way of life. I'm using it as part of training the interns I work with. What I'd love to know is how much this also applies to lesbian women.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Kalem Wright

    The Velvet Rage argues that invalidation drives the inward-facing shaming and outward-facing search for acquisition and avoidance that gay men experience early on in coming out. It utilizes several brief case studies from the author’s psychological experience and additionally layers a discussion of learned gender roles as influencing the emotional illiteracy of men in relationships. A great read for a professional although its reliance on psychodynamic perspective and lack of discussion of intra The Velvet Rage argues that invalidation drives the inward-facing shaming and outward-facing search for acquisition and avoidance that gay men experience early on in coming out. It utilizes several brief case studies from the author’s psychological experience and additionally layers a discussion of learned gender roles as influencing the emotional illiteracy of men in relationships. A great read for a professional although its reliance on psychodynamic perspective and lack of discussion of intra-group issues such as race and transgender concerns are flaws.

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