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The Velvet Rage: Overcoming the Pain of Growing Up Gay in a Straight Man's World Paperback – 4 May 2006

4.3 out of 5 stars 32 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press Inc (4 May 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0738210617
  • ISBN-13: 978-0738210612
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.3 x 20.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 405,883 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


[Downs s] narration is well matched to his message. "AudioFile"" --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

About the Author

Alan Downs, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist practicing in Santa Fe, New Mexico. His fifteen years of treating clients have already been reflected in numerous books about both leadership and self-help. A personal and professional milestone, "The Velvet Rage" is his first book about the psychology of gay life.

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
At the beginning of this book I had several jaw dropping moments, hearing some one describe perfectly how my life had developed as a gay man from childhood in a generally homophobic world, and what was the source of my internal rage that I had endured throughout my life. 'The little boy with the big secret' as he so perfectly described it. Even the title of the book spoke to me, having harboured an unknown anger all my life that I was keen to make sense of. I was so keen to read on and hear what he had to say. I had read reviews before reading it saying that the book was indeed life changing. It certainly gave me that impression in the first few chapters that it might well be. But as the book progressed it all seemed so one dimensional. It assumed that all gay men are obsessive careerists, with perfect bodies, or the desire to have perfect bodies. Where I wondered was the advice for the less than perfectionist gay, the ones who might be over weight or who have no clue how to dress themselves or style a home. I suspect they would have only become further alienated by this book. As indeed would the people who don't flit from lover to lover, and aren't youth obsessed.
There is a distinct cultural difference between American gay men and european ones, even though there are global similarities obviously. And this is a very American book, which is directed towards American gay men. I do think that there is an increased obsession with success in the USA, that you don't find so much certainly here in the UK, and that is reflected here.
I read on through the book as he went on to highlight our failings as gay adults, and what was the cause of them, I felt that he offered little in way of solution.
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Format: Paperback
Way too many generalisations for my taste. All gay men are the same. And they all are exactly as in the show "A-list New York".

Example (p.74) "...we are almost always over-the-top in what we do. We are the chefs at the best ...restaurants. We are the vice presidents of important investment houses. We are the top hairstylists whom movie stars fly for hundreds of miles just to have us fix their hair. We rarely do things that are quiet, reserved, and commonplace. These jobs we leave by-and-large to straight people to slog through."

This is from a therapist with a PHD in psychology. Thanks, dude. How many gay men actually fit that description? 1%? And this is done constantly through the book - references to "our perfect homes", "lavish dinner parties", "our perfect bodies". Once again, everything is about "perfect professional homosexuals" to whom all those references may be relevant. Just like the majority of gay magazines and media already. Way to alienate 99% of the readers.

These things made it quite hard for me to look for things that are relevant to me.
But there were some. Parts on shame, need for validation, sensitivity for perceived invalidation etc.

There is a HUGE gaping hole between chapters 12 and 13. Chapter 12 is a description of possible relationship trauma people can go through and which can influence later relationships: betrayal, abuse, abandonement, relationship ambivalence. Fine. Chapter 13 starts with "Having broken free from the stronghold of shame and the pain of trauma, the gay man begins to build his life - a life of meaning, purpose and satisfaction". Hm.... great! Having broken free HOW EXACTLY? Any tips? That is such a cop-out. "Oh, you are full with shame. Your life sucks. Call me when you break free and your life will be full of meaning". Awesome.
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Format: Paperback
A really excellent book. A very easy read but at the same time very analytical but always corresponded to contemporary examples so not just intellectual waffle.

Felt that it helped me understand myself (and friends) a lot more

Be great if there was a follow up with more of a self help / how to slant.

Highly highly recommended!
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Format: Paperback
The Velvet Rage: Overcoming the Pain of Growing up Gay in a Straight Man's World.
Alan Downs, PH.D

American psychologist Dr Downs peruses his experience growing up as a gay man and adds to that a distillation of his experiences with his gay male clients over the years to stitch together anecdotes, some insights and some truly breath taking generalisations, to form that most beloved thing in psychology "a model" (With stages no less. No really, they are all the rage, think Freud, Piaget etc).
Toxic shame, the search for validation and the pinnacle of authenticity. These are our markers on this journey to construct a model of gay maleness that explains why so many of us are so screwed up.

The first few chapters on the roots of rage will, if you are a gay man,have you nodding away like some toy dog in the back of a car. Certainly Alan (we are all on first, if fictional, name terms in this book) has some insights into why young gay man find adolescence so hard. Sufficient echoes of truth from your own experience will whip you into a frenzy of enthusiasm for the text (as encountered on the very first page, crammed with glowing validations from readers whose lives were changed by this opus) and such echoes will continue in subsequent chapters but grow quieter as you progress.

Dr. Downs makes no attempt to discuss the demographic of his sources. That they are American is sure, as attested by insert quotes on most pages from patients identified with fictional first names and the city and state of their provenance (this may mean something for American readers who may recognise the "Lenny" being from Dallas,Tx would feel such and such, because, well you know what they are like in Dallas. Means bugger all to me though). Are they white? Affluent?
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