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Publisher's Summary

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.

©2005, 2006, 2012 Alan Downs (P)2012 HighBridge Company

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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Must read for any gay man

Would you listen to The Velvet Rage again? Why?

There was quite a bit of information presented, and I think listening to it again might help me access more of it.

What did you like best about this story?

The inclusion of anecdotes really helped me relate my own life to the issues described in the book.

Which scene was your favorite?

Chapter 14, where he talked about life skills.

If you could give The Velvet Rage a new subtitle, what would it be?

An owner's manual for the gay life.

14 of 14 people found this review helpful

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Very Profound for Me

Would you consider the audio edition of The Velvet Rage to be better than the print version?

Yes - I enjoyed Alan Downs reading his own words. There are subtleties in his voice that add significance.

What did you like best about this story?

How much I can relate to the struggle and the potential for growth he offers.

Have you listened to any of Alan Downs’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I haven't. This is the first.

What’s the most interesting tidbit you’ve picked up from this book?

Probably the first chapters where he discusses shame, its origins and manifestations etc. I'd never though about my own shame in those terms before. Very helpful!

Any additional comments?

Really worth the read, guys.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • E. Durham
  • Arnold's Cove, Newfoundland
  • 07-02-13

Heartwarming and Informative

Alan's tone and approach is heartwarming with its message of hope. This message is presented without flourish. This made the content less entertaining but far more personal and moving. I am grateful for the wisdom shared and have already begun to share some of it with my friends. I recommend the book to every gay person wishing to understand more about their emotional world and to everyone else for the same reason. A little understanding can only help and this book has much to share.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Jim
  • San Francisco
  • 08-25-13

A Great Perspective that Resonates

If you could sum up The Velvet Rage in three words, what would they be?

This book offers a clear perspective on the life of gay men and the challenges we face dealing with the way our lives feel need to be and how they should be. The perspective really resonates with me and made me sit back and think about how much the shame and expectations of gay life impacted and continue to impact me. Worth every minute of listening pleasure.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Velvet Rage?

One thing - dont pass up that man who may not be perfect because you pass up the chance to meet an amazing person.

What about Alan Downs’s performance did you like?

Very easy to listen to very easy to enjoy.

What’s the most interesting tidbit you’ve picked up from this book?

Shame impacts everyone.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Corey
  • Houston, TX
  • 09-05-13

Most moving book I have ever read. A+++

Would you consider the audio edition of The Velvet Rage to be better than the print version?

Haven't read the printed version but ordered it so I could highlight specific portions. Having both wouldn't be a bad idea.

What did you like best about this story?

How closely it related to me.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

YES!!! Although I didn't have the time to I listened as much as possible.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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A MUST read for every gay man.

I first read this book after a particularly painful breakup in 2007. I was definitely a solid phase 2. Seven years later I find myself reading this book again nursing another broken heart. This time I found myself teetering on the brink of three. The ending chapters of this book were like a warning showing me exactly what I was doing, as I was beginning to foreclose on authenticity.
Thank you Alan for writing this book!!!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

So so

Some good ideas. But it feels often like the writer believes all gay men have the same problems. He doesn't seem to think any gay man can grow up without being ashamed.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Thank You!

I've already recommended this book to some of my friends as well as family members who need guidance and a further insight into the injustice that gay men face in this world.

I highly recommend this book for any gay man. Period.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Much Needed Reset

This book provided a catalyst for me to move on in my life and the courage to seek help to do so.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Wayne
  • Shelbyville, KY, United States
  • 04-01-15

Amazingly accurate and illuminating!

This explains it ALL! If only I'd had this book when I was 13, 18, 21 and every year after that until I was finally evolved enough to understand it.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • lianghh
  • 07-29-15

Depressing!

If this book wasn’t for you, who do you think might enjoy it more?

Gay men of older generation and those of the upper class might perhaps more identify with what life the author profiles. As a private psychologist, he obviously only sees highly paying patients. But even then, I question the sweeping statements made by the author of what he thinks is typical for gay men.

What was most disappointing about Alan Downs’s story?

I thought this would be a book that guides one to how to cope better with various fates that being gay seems to attract but instead it seems that the author wallows in misery and 2/3 through the book I feel worse about being gay than before.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

The narrator's mellow voice adds to the feeling of misery

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 09-25-13

Interesting BUT very flawed in presumptuousness

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

The demographic Alan Downs celebrates throughout his pages, are very rich A list gay men. He talks about shame, but manages to shame many readers with the 'normality' of their lives that are nothing like his consulting room in Santa Fe! Frustrating generalisations about gay life, no discussion on gender aspects, differences, diversity and though interesting and some good theory, just too insipid and American at times!

For a British audience and worldwide audience and for many in America, the assumption of the 'prevalence' of the Pink Pound and snobbery is hard to bear at points.

What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

No ending, but the model though based on CBT is interesting, but seems to get twisted for an American audience. If based on mindfulness, I've listened to far better CBT/ mindfulness based books. Yes a lot of the stereotypes are true and are brave, but it all seems a little glib and boastful.

You didn’t love this book--but did it have any redeeming qualities?

Yes, despite it flaws a good listen, but at moments irksome and hard to identify with. Nevertheless an important book to make your mind up over.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • cool-dood
  • 12-12-17

amazing

it made me realise things that were there but forgotten, and made me understand the beauty to keep going regardless of obstacles or setbacks, thanks

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 06-25-17

Excellent read/listen !

The changes and adaptation for leading the best possible life I don't think just apply to gay men but the author I think chose the stay on the safe side and say his recommendation is to apply this to them as the research carried out men.

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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Kindle Customer
  • 04-25-17

If your gay, you need this.

I loved this. It was interesting the whole way through. And there is invaluable advise you can cherish for years to come. It can be tough being gay, but it doesn't have to be.
I always had a feeling there was something wrong with me. Something missing. This book validates and highlights that thing that was missing. I hope all the best to anyone that gets this book. And that they work to find the peace they deserve.

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  • Andrew
  • 02-24-17

A must read/ listen!

Profoundly touching piece that has already made a huge difference in my life and perspective as a gay man. Wish they taught this material is schools and that it could be more widely available/ promoted to young families. Also has great advice which could be helpful for anyone not just gay men. Thank you Alan Downs

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  • Stuart
  • 06-30-16

A must read

A must read to understand highs, lows and how to find happiness in a tough world.

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  • Aidan Carney
  • 05-08-16

Every gay man should read this book at some point in his life

At times it was very difficult to listen to the truth & pain Alan Downs understands so well about all gay men but I'm glad I kept listening - I feel my awareness about my own struggles has increased significantly. Fantastic book.

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  • Vi
  • 05-15-15

A good material for reflection !

I found the examples of couples and their "problems" very interesting because i feel we all either have people with similar experience or we've experience it ourselves.

A good "read". A great "reader"

This experience finished too quickly! :)

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  • G. Bentham
  • 05-07-15

Interesting insights, doesn't give practical steps

The main thrust of this book is about how shame enters into the lives of most gay men as children and continues to drive their behaviour all their lives - unless they consciously acknowledge it and resolve it.

Having come from a place of being in reparative therapy, it was refreshing to hear many of the same observations of what drives the self-defeating or addictive behaviour of some gay men, but from a gay-affirming viewpoint. Whether psychological "diagnoses" of stages of leaving shame that the author identifies are "true" or not is a question I do have - while it makes sense to me personally, I wonder if there's good evidence beyond the authors own experience for them?

The book doesn't explain well how to put into practice the skills men (all men, and women) must practice, must do, in order to resolve the shame and be authentic. It emphasises that simply knowing the answer isn't enough - we must 'do' things to change. Yet, the end of the book simply says "do these skills". This seems inadequate, since this is about changing entrenched behaviours. It felt like the book leaves the reader hanging, waiting to hear what they must do.

Smaller issues with the book: Difficult to relate to lifestyle of privilege described; Some people don't have the luxury of working at their passion - they have to make ends meet.

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  • mehdihabibagahi
  • 04-18-18

Must read for Gay Men

Amazing book on gay men emotional stages and growth. If you ever wondered why we, gay men, are the way we are, there are some good insights here.