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Mental health matters

Books on mental health and wellbeing

There is an ever-growing library of books and other literature about coming out, being gay and/ or being on the LGBTQIA+ spectrum. We can barely scratch the surface here but we have listed a selection of coming out support under YOU:

LGBT books and literature | MEN R US

In terms of mental health, we suggest the article "The Epidemic of Gay Loneliness" by Michael Hobbes if you want to dip your toe in the water. For deeper dives, there's "Straight Jacket" by  Matthew Todd and "The Velvet Rage" by Alan Downs, while Matthew's "Pride: The Story of the LGBTQ Equality Movement" provides context: a rich account of the fight for LGBTQ equality, the gradual acceptance of the LGBTQ community in politics, sport, culture and the media and the ongoing challenges facing the community, and a testament to the equal rights that have been won for many as a result of the passion and determination of this mass movement.

Straight Jacket  | Matthew Todd

"Written by Matthew Todd, editor of Attitude, the UK's best-selling gay magazine, Straight Jacket is a revolutionary clarion call for gay men, the wider LGBT community, their friends and family. Part memoir, part ground-breaking polemic, it looks beneath the shiny facade of contemporary gay culture and asks if gay people are as happy as they could be – and if not, why not?

In an attempt to find the answers to this and many other difficult questions, Matthew Todd explores why statistics show a disproportionate number of gay people suffer from mental health problems, including anxiety, depression, addiction, suicidal thoughts and behaviour, and why significant numbers experience difficulty in sustaining meaningful relationships. Bracingly honest, and drawing on his own experience, he breaks the silence surrounding a number of painful issues, explaining:

  • how growing up in the closet can overwhelm the gay child with a deep sense of shame that can leave young people with perilously low self-worth and a powerfully negative body image
  • how many gay men overcompensate for childhood shame by pursuing unobtainable perfection, aspiring to have perfect bodies, boyfriends and lives
  • how gay culture, so often centred around alcohol, drugs, quick sex and even quicker wit, exacerbates the problem, and what we can all do to make things better

Meticulously researched, courageous and life-affirming, Straight Jacket offers invaluable practical advice on how to overcome a range of difficult issues. It also recognizes that this is a watershed moment, a piercing wake-up-call-to-arms for the gay and wider community to acknowledge the importance of supporting all young people – and helping older people to transform their experience and finally get the lives they really want." Penguin Books

Straight Jacket | Matthew Todd | Bantum Press | Jun 2016

The Epidemic of Gay Loneliness | Michael Hobbes

TOGETHER ALONE"Marriage equality and the changes in legal status were an improvement for some gay men,” says Christopher Stults, a researcher at New York University who studies the differences in mental health between gay and straight men. “But for a lot of other people, it was a letdown. Like, we have this legal status, and yet there’s still something unfulfilled.”

This feeling of emptiness, it turns out, is not just an American phenomenon. In the Netherlands, where gay marriage has been legal since 2001, gay men remain three times more likely to suffer from a mood disorder than straight men, and 10 times more likely to engage in “suicidal self-harm.” In Sweden, which has had civil unions since 1995 and full marriage since 2009, men married to men have triple the suicide rate of men married to women.

All of these unbearable statistics lead to the same conclusion: It is still dangerously alienating to go through life as a man attracted to other men. The good news, though, is that epidemiologists and social scientists are closer than ever to understanding all the reasons why.

The Epidemic of Gay Loneliness | Michael Hobbes | The Huffington Post | 2 Mar 2017

The Velvet Rage | Alan Downs

VELVET RAGEToday’s gay man enjoys unprecedented, hard-won social acceptance. Despite this victory, however, serious problems still exist. Substance abuse, depression, suicide, and sex addiction among gay men are at an all-time high, causing many to ask, “Are we really better off?” Drawing on contemporary research, psychologist Alan Downs’s own struggle with shame and anger, and stories from his patients,

The Velvet Rage passionately describes the stages of a gay man’s journey out of shame and offers practical and inspired strategies to stop the cycle of avoidance and self-defeating behaviour. Updated to reflect the effects of the many recent social, cultural, and political changes, The Velvet Rage is an empowering book that has already changed the public discourse on gay culture and helped shape the identity of an entire generation of gay men. Da Capo Press

The Velvet Rage | Alan Downs | Da Capo Press | 2012

Pride: The Story of the LGBTQ Equality Movement | Matthew Todd

PRIDE"In June 1969, police raided New York gay bar the Stonewall Inn. Pride charts the events of that night, the days and nights of rioting that followed, the ensuing organization of local members of the community - and the 50 years since in which activists and ordinary people have dedicated their lives to reversing the global position.

Pride documents the milestones in the fight for LGBTQ equality, from the victories of early activists to the passing of legislation barring discrimination, and the gradual acceptance of the LGBTQ community in politics, sport, culture and the media. Rare images and documents cover the seminal moments, events and breakthroughs of the movement, while personal testimonies share the voices of key figures on a broad range of topics. Pride is a unique celebration of LGBTQ culture, an account of the ongoing challenges facing the community, and a testament to the equal rights that have been won for many as a result of the passion and determination of this mass movement. A fully updated edition of Matthew Todd's essential 2019 book, Pride is a celebration and a clarion call."

Pride: The Story of the LGBTQ Equality Movement | Matthew Todd | Welbeck Publishing Group | 2019/ 21

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