The Velvet Rage: Overcoming the Pain of Growing Up Gay in a Straight Man's World

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9780738210117: The Velvet Rage: Overcoming the Pain of Growing Up Gay in a Straight Man's World

Whether he is flamboyantly fashionable with a body chiseled to perfection or chronically dissatisfied and without lasting relationships, the stereotypical extremes of male gay behavior are fueled by the same dark force: shame.The inevitable byproduct of growing up gay in a straight man's world, the experience of shame in childhood and adolescence sends a boy the message that he is other and that he is worthless. To avoid feeling shameful later in life—and even after he is no longer explicitly shamed by his sexuality—a gay man will quietly rage against the memory of this message and strive to excel dramatically to prove it wrong. The stereotypical manifestation of this inner battle is a gay man's success in the arts, fashion and in his body image; as with all the other forms of beauty, creativity and success, he is hiding behind the facades he creates.Building on the collected psychological research and the author's own experience of the past twenty years, The Velvet Rage will help gay men profoundly understand their dichotomous extremes. Explaining the psychological underpinnings of the forces at play in their lives, it also offers helpful strategies to stop the insidious cycle of avoidance and rage. Empowering and validating, The Velvet Rage will influence the public discourse on gay culture and positively change the lives of gay men who read it.

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From the Inside Flap:

"The most important issue in a gay man's life is not 'coming out,' but coming to terms with the invalidating past where we learned that we are shameful...."

The gay male world today is characterized by seductive beauty, artful creativity, flamboyant sexuality, and, encouragingly, unprecedented acceptability in society. Yet despite the progress of the past century, our intimate relationships are generally short-lived compared to straight relationships, sexually transmitted diseases among us are at epidemic proportions, and depression and suicide occur far more frequently than among straight men.

Even though an entire generation of us has openly and freely come out of the closet, we still find ourselves asking, "Are we really better off?" Through bravely honest individual stories and compassionate analysis, The Velvet Rage explores how our contentment has been destroyed by lingering, deep-rooted shame-a shame that can be traced to our childhood experiences of feeling "other" and perhaps emotionally abandoned by the first men in our lives, our fathers. Most of us rage quietly against the shame we feel so acutely, masking it behind a fa ade of beauty, creativity, or material success.

It doesn't have to be this way. There is a way out of this emotional bind.

Drawing on contemporary psychological research, the author's own journey to be free of anger and of shame, as well as the stories of many of his friends and clients, Velvet Rage outlines the three distinct stages to emotional well-being for gay men. Offering profoundly helpful strategies to stop the insidious cycle of avoidance and self-defeating behavior, Velvet Rage is an empowering book you'll wish you read long ago.

It's not too late to begin healing now.

From the Back Cover:

The most important issue in a gay man's life is not "coming out," but coming to terms with the invalidating past where we learned that we are shameful. Only within that awareness can we confront the shame and eliminate its insidious influence over our lives. For certain, the most damaging part of social oppression has never been the act of oppression, but the oppression that we internalize within ourselves.

As a therapist and a gay man, I know that it is utterly life-changing when a man sees the truth about the shame that has driven him and his constant, sometimes frantic efforts to avoid it. This avoidance of shame has shaped our lives, determined our careers, and chosen our lovers. Not until we acknowledge its power over us are we free to choose a different, more fulfilling life. -- From The Velvet Rage

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