- Ryan Kretch
Over here at the Fabryk, we are just experimenting with writing book reviews, so we don't really have an established rating system like Amazon, nonetheless any book written about on this website comes with a heartfelt recommendation as it was personally read and assessed by one or both of us. That is completely valid for the first book we are recommending to you all, The Velvet Rage: Overcoming the Pain of Growing Up Gay in a Straight Man's World, which made me think and reflect on my life with every page turn.
This is a must-read for all gay men who needs a little hope
Fabio gave me this book before a trip I was going on after a long lull of feeling uninspired by reading. Nevertheless, this was just the book I needed at that time. The author, Dr. Alan Downs, who is a clinical psychologist working quite exclusively with gay men, takes you through the journey of a typical gay man's life by dividing it into three stages:
- being overwhelmed by shame
- compensating for shame
- cultivating authenticity
What I find remarkable is despite how different every gay man's journey is in the world, they in some way, shape or form fit into these three stages. I had a lot of 'aha' moments while reading and was reminded of times in my 31 years in life thus far that could be easily mapped to one of the three stages. On top of it, it gave me a lot of hope and tools to secure a more authentic future.
I personally struggle a lot with the thought that big components of my childhood and adolescense were taken away from me because I was basking in the shame of being different. To this day, I still feel like I am living someone else's story because of how I deviated away from my true self during those pivotal years of growth. Now I am at the point cradling stages 2 and 3 where I find myself craving validation as a way of compensating for all of that pent up shame but at the same time finally feeling that I am finding my true self. Sorry for the personal anecdote, but if it weren't for this book, I would sometimes think that the superficiality that the author defines as stage 2 was the limit of a gay man's life. It is good to know that many gay men were able to successfully shed away that stage of their life and find true authenticity and contentment.
My one recommendation is get a hard copy of this book and keep it close by, as the lessons and tools in the book are ones you should actively try to implement, but can easily be forgotten after closing the book. Like I said earlier, this is a must-read for all gay men, and I almost consider it a manifesto for how gay men can actively improve their lives and the lives of those around them.