The temptation to name this post “Why Matthew Todd Owes Me £16.99 And An Afternoon Of My Life Back” was strong, but ultimately it was too long.
The fact of the matter is, a friend of mine told me I should read Straight Jacket: How to be Gay and Happy by Matthew Todd because they knew how much I liked The Velvet Rage by Alan Downes and I can see how the mistake can be made.
Now, I am trying not to be so negative about things, and perhaps my judgement is clouded by my loathing of the magazine Todd is the editor for, but at the end of the day, the content of this book is contrived, ego-inflating nonsense that you can find somewhere else…like The Velvet Rage for instance, of which some of the ideas in Todd’s book are lifted from. So, why am I so against people reading this version of things?
You have to understand it from my point of view, even if you don’t fully fit into the place I’m coming from. Matthew Todd has been the editor of Attitude magazine ever since I started reading it – and I read it because it was the most easily accessible reading material on what being gay was like. For my formative gay years, Attitude was unfortunately my bible, I’d buy it religiously, and often sheepishly from wherever I could. I enjoyed it for the most part, but this magazine formed the deep rooted body image issues to increase tenfold within me.
I was unhappy because I knew full well I’d never grace it’s pages (albeit I lacked the fame anyway), but I wasn’t hairless, I wasn’t toned, I wasn’t some form of Greek deity, and it’s only been in recent years, when I’m well into my late-twenties that these things started to change. It represented the good-looking gay men that I just didn’t identify with.
However, now we have Todd, after creating a generation of self-loathing gay men like me, telling me how I can now be happy if I follow his advice. He created the demand and is now conveniently creating the supply for something that he has authored, further benefitting from us. It drives me crazy, and the only unfortunate thing is, I know more people who have read this book due to twitter recommendations than have read The Velvet Rage! No! Stop right now!
Matthew Todd is nothing but a glorified writer, whilst Alan Downes has qualifications and decent source material to draw from. All Todd has done is go around, asked a few people a few questions, renamed established psychological terminology and bluffed his way through providing “help” for something he created. It honestly boils my blood that this man has happily destroyed people’s self worth with the content he has published for so long and is now pretending to be some saviour of it, using his ‘real life experiences’ – of which I don’t doubt he’s probably actually gone through – but he was at the helm of something that could have signified change.
This man could have, years ago, fought for men of colour, men of different statures, men who were hairy, chubby, all these other things to be on the pages or the cover of Attitude, but he didn’t, for so long. For so many damaging years that can’t be undone with a yellow covered hardback book of pure self-indulgent nonsense!
If you have been gifted this book, and are yet to read it, saving it for around about now when you wanted to do your “New Year, New Me” sort of thing, then please, do not actually read this book and take it as gospel. Educate yourself. Grab yourself a copy of The Velvet Rage, and find yourself in a better place.
I’m sure Matthew Todd meant well, and that in some way Straight Jacket has likely helped someone, somewhere, but until he acknowledges that the things he has published created a need for these books as well as all the other parts of shame we feel as gay men, it’s not worth the paper it’s written on.