The Velvet Rage

Overcoming the Pain of Growing Up Gay in a Straight Man's World
Narrated by: Alan Downs Ph. D
Length: 7 hrs and 14 mins
Categories: LGBT, LGBT Studies
4.5 out of 5 stars (1,057 ratings)

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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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    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.

16 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.

7 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.

7 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.

4 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.

4 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.

3 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..

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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A Series of Unfortunate Events

The author presents his theory on why (some) gay men cause self harm thru bad life choices. Essentially boils down to internalized 'gay shame' in various manifestations. It's an idea, take it of leave it.

1 person 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.

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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.

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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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  • 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 person found this helpful

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  • Customer
  • 08-23-20

This book lives up to its reputation. I’m so glad I finally read it!

As a gay man in his mid 30’s who’s right now training to become a counsellor at university I think it was the right time for me to finally read this well known book for myself and also to see another gay male therapist’s experiences and I’m so glad I did. This was the first time but definitely will revisit some chapters soon. We LGBT+ people did not get an ‘instructional handbook’ when we realised what journey we are walking on but I wish for the future generation of LGBT+ people to read/listen this book. It’s really worth every minute of your time!

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  • Anonymous User
  • 01-30-20

Thought provoking and insightful if a little at times quite a frustrating read

Some really interesting and impactful observations made. This book made me think over my journey and the personal parts I still need to focus and work on for my own development - so for that I’m grateful.

Far too often however this book feels like it gets caught up as an autobiography rather than a cultural study.

I couldn’t help wince by the continual referring to gay life dominated by status, wealth fashion and outrageousness. It feels a little outdated and although I get that stereotypes exist I think it these points could have been presented in a more considered way.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 10-31-19

Every gay man must read.

All gay men should read this book to discover how we can move forward from the shame and invalidation we experienced as children and how we have been moulded by it's reoccurring presence as adults.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 05-01-19

Insightful

Fascinating and insightful, I wish I read this years ago. I highly recommend this audiobook .

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 07-11-18

Amazing book

Amazing book, thank u for writing it, i wish you the best, all gay men should read it twice!

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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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  • merryn
  • 08-22-18

Relationships and Passion

I listened to this because I am trying to be an active and knowledgeable LGBTI+ Ally but what I actually got from this was much more. I gained some insight into hardships gay men face that I don't but I also gained insight into myself. I don't think any person could listen to this and not be struck by how similar our problems are no matter how we identify and honestly I look around me and see so many others struggling with their journey to find their authentic selves. Worth a listen for sure.

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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.