The Velvet Rage: Overcoming the Pain of Growing Up Gay in a Straight Man's World Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
The most important issue in a gay man’s life is not “coming out”, but coming to terms with the invalidating past. Despite the progress made in recent years, many gay men still wonder, “Are we better off?” The byproduct of growing up gay in a straight world continues to be the internalization of shame, rejection, and anger - a toxic cocktail that can lead to drug abuse, promiscuity, alcoholism, depression, and suicide.
Drawing on contemporary psychological research, the author’s own journey, and the stories of many of his friends and clients, Velvet Rage addresses the myth of gay pride and outlines three stages to emotional well-being for gay men. The revised and expanded edition covers issues related to gay marriage, a broader range of examples that extend beyond middle-class gay men in America, and expansion of the original discussion on living authentically as a gay man.
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|Listening Length||7 hours and 14 minutes|
|Author||Alan Downs Ph. D|
|Narrator||Alan Downs Ph. D|
|Whispersync for Voice||Ready|
|Audible.com.au Release Date||12 June 2012|
|Publisher||HighBridge, a division of Recorded Books|
|Best Sellers Rank|| 16,795 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
8 in Gay Studies
30 in LGBTQ+ Studies (Books)
64 in LGBTQ+ Rights & Expression
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Top reviews from Australia
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I owned a physical copy of the book but on Audiable I can now listen to clips if ever I’m feeling a bit alone in my anxieties or depression. It seems growing up gay in the 80’s, 90’s and 00’s is a common experience. Regardless of age, we all faced similar scenarios. With love from Melbourne.
Top reviews from other countries
I'm sure it's helpful for some people. And if you're feeling bad because of your unhealthy lifestyle / sex addition / substance abuse it'll help. But other than a couple of insightful paragraphs it's mostly nonsense.
Topping that off, the book feels horribly upper middle class; talk of clients from executive backgrounds being ashamed of who they are. That may not be the experience of every gay. There's also an assumption that most gays come from a home with a caring mother and distant father. Another middle class assumption borne of the author's upbringing and environment.
It takes a certain view on non-monogamy and promiscuity, framing it as a symptom of trying to overcompensate for a lack of validation in teen years and while that's certainly probably the case for some, it doesn't frame anything other than monogamy as intrinsically rewarding. Like the "bitter queens hanging on to the bar, pining for their lost youth and beauty whilst desperately trying to hook up with another 20 year old twink just to feel something" certainly do exist. It doesn't mean everyone who has lots of sex is one of them and in need of fixing.
The book was first published, far as I can tell, in 2006 so we don't get much discussion in the way the modern LGBTQ+ movement has affected overall attitudes. And again this is a very white, very affluent, middle class view on gayness.
I wonder too what would be said of social media had this book come out today. Since a lot of what is said about seeking extrinsic validation could apply to Instagram instead of just to people hosting lavish parties or selling art for tens of thousands of dollars.
No effort is made to understand how a working class gay with very little disposable income or social capital would have to cope with what's described in the opening chapters around the shame of growing up different to most of ones peers.
That said, the opening chapters are definitely the strongest part of the book. Pinning how I'm sure a lot of queer people, not just gay cis men, will have come to understand the world and learned to cope by behaving certain ways or masking.
The final chapters, however, are mindfulness exercises I'm sure a lot of people would benefit from. Not terrible but learning that the author is now a life coach makes perfect sense to me. He's also a PhD psychologist so, like, I don't doubt this man's credentials
Overall it was a decent read. I feel this is more a book for a straight audience looking to understand the gay experience a little better, however it paints with both broad strokes about gay culture in general whilst only ever being a snapshot of a very particular group of gays
This was more of a self help book than I was looking for, I think. Again, not a bad book; the first third really resonated with me. It lost me near the end though.
A hard and sometimes painful book to read, but well worth the effort and the self-examination to find real understanding and self-acceptance.
If his target audience was made more clear, the book would make more sense (i.e. it was stated that it was older, wealthy men from California who like fashion and pop culture). Instead, it is supposedly meant for all gay men and yet it fails to demonstrate a broad range of experiences that gay men live through.
There is not even an attempt to acknowledge that gay men will have diverse backgrounds. Instead, regularly he writes things like, "we all grew up with" or "we think" etc. A good example of this over-generalisation is this paragraph from page 16 where he asserts of the gay man's childhood experience:
"This little boy grows up to be a man who is supposedly knowledgable of culture and fashion. A man of Adonis-sized proportions and many lovers. A man of great success and wealth. A fabulous and outrageous host. An arbiter of good taste and elegant design. A pop-culture aficionado."
I often find it difficult on Amazon when something has great reviews but then some give it 1 star. On this occasion, however, I really wish I had read the 1-star reviews properly and not wasted my time reading this book.
I am passionate about understanding the impact of shame on gay lives including my own (having, in part, written my dissertation on this topic). Maybe this book will speak to some and I don’t doubt the sincerity of the author in his intentions, but for me at least, it's lazy generalisations were too hard to look past and marred any well-meaning attempt to be a useful tool for gay men.