The Velvet Rage: Introduction

Page 2

When you look around it becomes somewhat undeniable that we are a wounded lot. Somehow, the life we are living isn’t leading us to a better, more fulfilled psychological and emotional place. Instead, we seem to struggle more, suffer more and want more. The gay life isn’t cutting it for most of us.

Tru’dat! Though the only thing I have wanted in life is a companion. That’s it! I can certainly related to the suffering: as a result of addiction, which the author mentions on the previous page and how there is a high clientele that is gay; being HIV+, obese, and apparently ugly.

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Three-Stage Model

Stage 1: Overwhelmed by Shame: “in the closet.”
Stage 2: Compensating for Shame: Gay man’s attempt to neutralize his shame by being more successful, outrageous, fabulous, beautiful, or masculine.
Stage 3: Cultivating Authenticity: building a life based upon one’s own passions and values

I think I am at Stage 3. I have already had some eye-opening moments where I realized how I was “shaped” to be who I am/was. It makes me sick because I have become the opposite of who I really am.

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He goes on to say who wonderful his life is after accepting himself.

Cynicism and skepticism rising.

Shame on you

The Velvet Rage: Overcoming Growing Up Gay in A Straight Man’s World

The Velvet Rage: Overcoming The Pain of Growing Up Gay In A Striaght Man's World


My AA sponsor suggested I read The Velvet Rage: Overcoming the Pain Of Growing Up Gay in A Straight Man’s World, by Alan Downs, PhD while I was still able to go to AA meetings. I no longer go to meetings due to inability to get to the gay meetings, which are further away.

Anyway, I loved the book the minute I started reading because I could identify with everything this guy is writing and hope there is a cure for me hate of gays.

The Velvet Rage: Preface to the 2012 Edition, page ix

The author is reminiscing about good ol’ days, the men he has loved/lusted and the friends lost to AIDS through drugs/alcohol, remarking “I am alive,” as that is sufficient enough for him.

This is what I’ve wanted my whole life, yet it has escaped me my whole life also. Admittedly, I my default state is not one of gratitude…problem 1.

The Velvet Rage: Preface to the 2012 Edition, page x

I glance backward and feel the tide of life and memory rushing forward, I am torn between gratitude for what was given and longing for what was lost.

I tend to focus on longing for what was never had.

“we are uniquely identifiable in our ways—there is no mistaking gay culture when you see it.”

I interpret “gay culture” as West Hollywood, which is easily identifiable to me. However, without gaydar, I can’t tell another homosexual just by looking at one…unless he is a drag queen or obviously flamboyant, and even then I can be wrong. My ideal man is masculine, straight-appearing, making it doubly hard for me to identify an ideal mate.

The Velvet Rage: Preface to the 2012 Edition, page xi

“When you love a man, it fundamentally changes you-and we have all be shaped by our love of men; the heavy caress of his hand, the brush of the hair on his forearm, and the powerful kiss that at once dominates and deconstructs our defenses.. These things enliven our days an fuel our dreams.”

Wow! I have the added complication of taking that fuel and creating a conflagration because of my sex addition.

“It is the concept of shame, in fact, that has enlightened so many of their lives. Prior to reading the book, they felt they had long ago been done with the ravages of shame over their sexual orientation. Some actually have no memory of feeling shame over being gay-they marched out of the closet at a young age and never looked back. It is here, at this point, that a truly life-changing insight emerges. Most of us have not felt the emotion or shame for many years-since we first came to terms with being gay. For the majority of gay men who are out of the closet, shame is no longer felt. What was once a feeling  has become something deeper and more sinister in our psyches-it is a deeply and rigidly held belief in our own unworthiness for love.”


“We were taught by the experience of shame during those tender and formative years of adolescence that there was something about us that was flawed, in essence unlovable, and that we must go about the business of making ourselves lovable if we were to survive.

The only people in my mind that taught me the experience of shame were school children who made fun of me for being fat and gay, when I didn’t even know what gay was, nor realized that was what I was. Well, they succeeded, because at 54+ I don’t believe I am lovable; only difference today is that I have given up ever being loved [the way I want to be loved.]

“We were hungry for love, and our very existence depended upon it…Whether life is worth living depends on whether there is love in life…The lesson of the early, crippling shame was imprinted on our lives. If you are to be loved, you must hide the truth about yourself and work at being lovable.”

 Guilty! Feeling unfulfilled, I chose drugs, knowing that I could make people laugh, equating laughter with love, confusing love with lust, and never ending up with anyone, provoking hate from within towards all. 

The Velvet Rage: Preface to the 2012 Edition, page xi

“Very few of us feel the shame, but almost all of us struggle with the private belief that “if you really knew the whole , unvarnished truth about me, you would know that I am unloveable. It is this belief that pushes us, even dominates us with its tyranny of existential anger. In our own way, young and old alike, we set about the business of “earning” love, and escaping the pain of believing we are unlovable. It is this damned quest that pushes us to the highest of highs, and simultaneously brings u to the brink. This is both the creator of the fabulous gay man and his destroyer

Me destroyed. When I have received attention from another man, I am walking on clouds; the minute it’s gone, you’d think I had been deflated.

“Gay shame is not embarrassment over being gay; is the belief that being gay is a mere symptom of your own mortally flawed psyche. You can treat the homophobic symptom, but the underlying disease persists until acknowledged and treated.”

Huh? Maybe my psychologist can explain this to me. I have been wanting to address my gay shame/hate with him. What is my homophobic symptom and underlying disease?

The Velvet Rage: Preface to the 2012 Edition, page xv

“…the lives of nearly all destructive perpetrators are intertwined with, and in many cases motivated by , rageful reactions to personal shame. The devastating effects of shame are ubiquitous, and the message of self-acceptance is universally craved by a world that has i large part been taught that you aren’t young, thin, holy, rich, or successful enough.”


The Velvet Rage: Preface to the 2012 Edition, page xvi

“…shame blocks people everywhere from experiencing the joy and contentment that lays just beyond those dark walls that imprison the human spirit.”

I believe this.

“While understanding the origins of shame-based wounds is important, this alone is not sufficient to bring needed change into our lives. Change comes by choice and practice, not from insight about our past.”

I concur.