The Velvet Rage

I’ve been 17 days in Prague now, staying in two different friends’ apartments. The second friend came back from UK yesterday (and left again today). He brought with him the latest issue of the gay magazine Attitude, which a friend had asked him to buy. See how I must excuse the both of us. Yes, I do think it’s embarrassing to buy a lifestyle magazine – they feel so ancient. So I was surprised by how good the magazine was. All in all, lots of substance, and a layout that, since I read the rag last time, has become more Vanity Fair than Bravo.

Anyway, the main feature in Attitude’s September issue is called “How to be Gay & Happy,” written by Matthew Todd. It’s based on Alan Downs’ book The Velvet Rage: Overcoming the Pain of Growing Up Gay in a Straight Man’s World from 2005. The title says it all really, and still you won’t get it till you actually read the book. I read it about a year ago, and I agree with Todd when he says that

… reading it was one of the biggest light bulb moments I’ve ever had in my life. I believe it’s an essential read for every gay man who wants to understand the issues that a significant number of us share.

Though everything in the book didn’t apply to me (thank god), I could see traces of many of the issues in myself. It was nothing short of an epiphany to realize that they derive from those first crucial moments, at age 4 or so, of being treated differently because you were “that way” – an experience that 90 percent of gay men – if not all – share in one way or the other.

Swedes, read my short review in Swedish.

The book was published in 2005. Todd points out that it

… didn’t get much attention in the press though has been passed round from person to person, just under the radar.

That’s my experience too, and that’s how I got it. It was the read among my sorted gay friends in the summer of 2009. And I continued to pass it on. Last night I got an sms greeting from a Swedish friend between flights in Frankfurt. It ended:

Just wanted to say that The Velvet Rage has become a sort of Tupperware product, with which I’ve nourished my close and loved ones. It’s so good, because it emphasizes interesting psychological processes that everyone can embrace in their own way. … So thanks for this book recommendation from me and T and so far about 10 more gay men in Stockholm.

So if you’re a gay man, read The Velvet Rage, or the short version in the September 2010 issue of Attitude.

3 thoughts on “The Velvet Rage

  1. Thanks for commenting on my book. Matthew did a wonderful job with the article in Attitude, and it’s gratifying to see interest in the book coming from countries around the globe.

    Alan Downs

  2. Wow, a comment from the author – I’m honored! Yes, your book is spreading through Europe, guerilla-wise. My copy is currently being read in Prague, but I hope to get it back soon for the second read. Congratulations and a big hug whether you want it or not, Alan – you’re legendary!

  3. I read the article and thought it was good, so I ordered te book from amazon, but I think they’re outnof stock because mines taking a few weeks! Looking forward to it! I thought there were so many things which resonated it made sense!

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