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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 listeners say about The Velvet Rage

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

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.

17 people found this 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.

8 people found this helpful

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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.

8 people found this helpful

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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.

5 people found this helpful

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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.

5 people found this 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.

4 people found this helpful

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Waited 49 years for this.....

Overwhelmed just by the 1st chapter in what my definition of shame is vs the real meaning. I continue to hide my true self even after all these years, I have learned to be me, to be enough, then a new lady friend asked me if I had a girlfriend, I froze....again... yet in my mind I’m saying, “ your have no clue do you” so my true self is me, is Doug,
And I have to remember that what others think of me is none of my business..

3 people found this helpful

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Can’t relate

Well, if you want a story about someone that’s self loathing, this is the book for you. I’ve heard about this book for years, and finally got it. Wow, just wow. Who relates to this author? The entire narrative is about a guy who is self loathing and projects that onto all other LGBTQ people. No, that wasn’t, and isn’t my experience. I’ve had hard times, and all the rest, but jeezus this guys story is so sad it’s pathetic. I’d say that he definitely needs a professional to talk to, BUT HES ACTUALLY GOT PH.D at the end of his name. Is he still making payments on the extra letter additions to his name? I’m either confused, or bored with how this book has remained in conversations all this time.

2 people found this 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!!!

2 people found this 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.

2 people found this helpful

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  • H.A.B.
  • 06-18-20

SHAME.....

SHAME is the keyword of this book ....

I bought this book as it sounded interesting and was recommended BUT I am very disappointed !!!

The author reads (performance) the book in a dreary voice - and it puts you asleep BUT what annoyed me most - and this Is my personal opinion!!!! - I object that one is told that all your life is based on SHAME...

The author uses the word SHAME more less in every other sentence - sometimes twice within one sentence!
All your life, all your decisions all your doings are based on SHAME

Some of the stories are rather fascinating and interesting , and in many stories of clients of the author one can find oneself - and listens fascinated BUT what puts me off is the fact that it is always interpreted with SHAME...

For someone who is OPENLY GAY and has social standing and hasn't hang-ups on his sexuality or suffers depressions, THIS BOOK IS INFURIATING!!!

Would I recommend this book- NO
Why:
The topic of this book is fascinating - and people who suffer the symptoms which the author describes need reassurance and not "pulling-down".
This is the reason why I wouldn't recommend this book to any one who seeks help or reassurance in his persona as a gay person.

3 people found this helpful

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  • David
  • 09-15-19

Opinionated, outdated pap.

Within about five minutes of starting this book the author had annoyed me. “Gay men are uniquely placed...” so my lesbian sister isn’t included when talking of compassion.

No thanks.

Maybe this book had something to offer when published, but I don’t think it does any more.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 05-30-18

Outdated, egocentric, destructive drivel.

This book was first written in a different time. This is a new edition but has failed to gather insight from recent research, from beyond the USA and relies heavily on anecdotal evidence of one therapists experience. It is dense with generalisations - often assertions for the mass based on individual cases, grandiose and absolute statements and hyperbole. I can hold these aberrations, but I would warn younger people learning about sexuality to seek more balanced and high quality literature in their quest.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • 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.

1 person found this helpful

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  • A Prince Tavira
  • 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 person found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 10-20-21

Profound and Life Changing

This is one book that has completely altered my lens on life and it is revolutionary!

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  • J-London
  • 10-16-21

Overwhelmingly meaningful

I relate to almost every part of this book, as I search for my own authentic life Alan’s stories and knowledge has made me feel that I’m not alone and that there’s hope once we understand the affects that toxic shame has in the life of most if not all gay men. I highly recommend it and it’s no wonder it’s been labelled “the gay bible” by many.

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  • Matthew
  • 08-11-21

A Must Read and Must Critique

Alan Downs presents his thesis on the origins of the unique neuroses of the gay man with enjoyable style and a typically American confidence. He clearly demonstrates his psychological expertise in his quite original formulation of the gay experience, integrating concepts from behaviourism, cognitive psychology and psychoanalysis in a way which is satisfying to those of us able to recognise them, and completely accessible and unintimidating to the layman. Unfortunately, Downs begins from a perspective of wealthy, privileged and presumably white cis-heteronormativity from which he fails to break or deviate at any time. His personal anecdotes, in early chapters especially, may alienate some readers as they did my partner, although I would encourage them to try to see past these restricted illustrations to the genuine insight beneath. More than anything, this book and books like are symbolic of the progress from queerness being labelled as deviant psychopathology to being understood compassionately through normative psychology. Therefore, it is an essential read, so that we can develop and improve on the ideas presented, towards a more inclusive and relevant thesis.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 06-27-21

Real stories I can connect with

I’ve read books on physiology before but it’s so much more engaging and relatable when you have real examples.

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  • Glenn H. Rafer
  • 05-17-21

It helps me truly understand of myself

I read this book during the time I came out with my family for the second time, as I was rejected by my own mother and didn’t get support from my 2 brothers when I told them for the first time that I was gay.
It was a revelation for me and truly seeing myself in the book from one chapter to another. This helps me process my feelings, emotions, rejections, splitting personality, rage and anger, suicidal thoughts and many more. I finally accepted myself and overcome the shame of being gay in a straight man broken world. I can’t thank you enough Dr. Downs. Kudos to you and your team!

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  • Anonymous User
  • 05-29-18

Good advice with dubious overreach.

There's some fantastic advice about healing your life in this book. To get to it, you have to get through chapters and chapters of pretty risible assertions. Get used to the phrase "toxic shame" because you'll be hearing it over and over, and it's to blame for everything from drug use and promiscuity to wit and artistic excellence. I'm sure Dr Downs didn't mean to throw out the baby with the bath water, and I'm sure he's only referring to the more extreme aspects of gay life, but he sure sounds like my parents condemning homosexuality as a whole. Start with the epic prologue, read the moving epilogue, then the useful final chapter. Hit the rest with caution.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Samuel T.
  • 09-07-18

Stage 2 going on 3 soon I hope

This book changed my life. I was recommended this book by my partner who constantly quotes it and used to drive me crazy with the quotes. Now I see why. Alan is incredibly honest and genuine, every word he wrote is very relatable. I’ll be honest in the beginning it was a bit hard to swallow, but when I looked back I placed the real me into this book and learned it’s not wrong but just things that are blocking me from being happy. It is possible to be happy, and this book did not only help with that but inspired me to spread it.

I would recommend this book to any gay boy, or family member or friend of a gay boy. It doesn’t matter if you are gay or straight this book will open your eyes to the world day boys grow up in. The struggle is real. And that’s the t.

Thank you Alan.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 08-01-18

life changing

this book came to me at a point in my life where i desperately needed guidance and understanding. i was entering “phase 3” as the book labels it. being able to understand what i had just gone through and see a way forward has been one of the most valuable things to happen in my life! thank you!

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-29-21

a gay man's must read

emotional, self relatable at times, definitely makes you think. can be a bit reductant as its point out everything comes out of shame, but still a great book!

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  • Alexander Paz
  • 03-13-21

An incredible read

I found this book to be a helpful roadmap for self actualisation as a gay man. It gave me insights into my own experiences and observations of gay culture and provided me with a sense of hope as well as understanding for how to live my life to the fullest. I have been recommending this book to all of my gay friends!

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  • Peter
  • 11-21-20

Outdated

Downs reveals the broken lives of adult gay men he counselled, as they dealt with their sexuality in the nineties. It’s tough and painful and important to hear their stories. Downs errs by assuming the great saving grace is a loving romantic monogamous partnership similar to hetero partnerships from the 1950s. Since this book’s publication, we have learned of the toxic male patriarchy and its oppressive influence on our sexuality and romantic partnerships. Homosexuality has become an opportunity for us to reconsider the relevance of marriage and power dynamics between men and women, rather than the model which gays should force themselves into through intense psychological manipulation and conditioning.
Downs too often returns to the assumption that many gays are self destructive victims who just need to be loved, without digging deeper into the foundation of those assumptions or goals. He never qualifies his beliefs, and I expect data and studies from someone with a PhD. He is generalising a lot; for example, he says that men who like to have a lot of sex have likely been sexually abused, but he doesn’t explain on what basis he has decided this for others. He doesn’t explain what a lot of sex is, nor does he challenge our social impulse to view this as a negative lifestyle choice.
I think it’s timely for him to revisit the social pressures gay men still negotiate as they seek to understand and explore their sexuality and themselves as gay men. This doesn’t scratch the surface and misses the point.

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