Free Your Mind: The Book for Gay, Lesbian & Bisexual Youth & Their Allies


Free Your Mind is the definitive practical guide for gay, lesbian, and bisexual youth — and their families, teachers, counselors and friends. For too long, gay youth have wanted to be themselves and to feel good about it, but most have been isolated, afraid, harassed, or worse. Their very existence has been ignored, whispered about, or swept under the rug.

But each day more and more lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth are standing up, speaking out, breaking down stereotypes, ...

See more details below
Available through our Marketplace sellers.
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (45) from $1.99   
  • New (3) from $20.90   
  • Used (42) from $1.99   
Sort by
Page 1 of 1
Showing All
Note: Marketplace items are not eligible for any coupons and promotions
Seller since 2005

Feedback rating:



New — never opened or used in original packaging.

Like New — packaging may have been opened. A "Like New" item is suitable to give as a gift.

Very Good — may have minor signs of wear on packaging but item works perfectly and has no damage.

Good — item is in good condition but packaging may have signs of shelf wear/aging or torn packaging. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Acceptable — item is in working order but may show signs of wear such as scratches or torn packaging. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Used — An item that has been opened and may show signs of wear. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Refurbished — A used item that has been renewed or updated and verified to be in proper working condition. Not necessarily completed by the original manufacturer.

5/10/1996 Softcover NEW condition--Fast ship and satisfaction always guaranteed.

Ships from: Larkspur, CO

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
Seller since 2014

Feedback rating:


Condition: New
New Gift Quality Book in Excellent Condition.

Ships from: Newton, MA

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
Seller since 2008

Feedback rating:


Condition: New

Ships from: Chicago, IL

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
Page 1 of 1
Showing All
Sort by
Sending request ...


Free Your Mind is the definitive practical guide for gay, lesbian, and bisexual youth — and their families, teachers, counselors and friends. For too long, gay youth have wanted to be themselves and to feel good about it, but most have been isolated, afraid, harassed, or worse. Their very existence has been ignored, whispered about, or swept under the rug.

But each day more and more lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth are standing up, speaking out, breaking down stereotypes, demanding rights and recognition — shining. In this book, young people share their joy and their pain, their hopes and fears, the formidable obstacles they have faced and overcome, and the exciting opportunities they have discovered.

Free Your Mind speaks to the basic aspects of the lives of gay, lesbian and bisexual youth: Self-Discovery; Friends and Lovers; Family; School; Spirituality; Community. Alive with the voices of more than fifty young people, rich in accurate information and positive practical advice, Free Your Mind talks about how to come out, deal with problems, make healthy choices about relationships and sex, connect with other gay youth and supportive adults, and take pride and participate in the gay and lesbian community. Free Your Mind also presents detailed guidance for adults who want to make the world safer for lesbian, gay and bisexual youth.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
This very accessible basic guide for youth and those who care about them includes many valuable, practical suggestions and pointers to additional resources. Bass and Kaufman cover it all in chapters from "Friends" and "Love" to "Religious Life" and "Living in Your Community."
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060951047
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 6/28/1996
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 448
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 6.12 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 1.12 (d)

Meet the Author

Ellen Bass

A pioneer in the field of healing from child sexual abuse, Ellen Bass currently teaches in the MFA program at Pacific University in Oregon. Her poetry books include Mules of Love and The Human Line.

Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt

"We are Everywhere
The only queer people are those who don't love anybody."
—Rita Mae Brown

Gay, lesbian, and bisexual people truly are everywhere. They live in large urban areas and in rural communities. They come from every neighborhood. They are part of every kind of family. They are all races and come from all cultures. They work in every occupation. They have every kind of talent imaginable. And they are all ages.

There have always been youth who were lesbian, gay, or bisexual. What's different today is that many young people are able to recognize and name their feelings sooner. And an increasing number are joining the growing movement of gay youth who are demanding recognition as well as fair and equal treatment.

In the last few decades lesbian, bisexual, and gay people have worked for—and gained—significant progress toward equal rights in many areas of life. Openly gay and lesbian people have been elected to public office. Private corporations, as well as some cities, have extended equal benefits to gay and lesbian employees. Gay people are joyously celebrating their commitments to each other and raising families.

And gay youth are insisting that they be acknowledged and respected. They are creating successful lives filled with pride, friendship, love, and satisfaction.

Who is gay?

There are all kinds of gay people. There are lesbian mothers, gay fathers, and bisexual grandparents. There are lesbian fire fighters, teachers, and waitresses. There are bisexual garbage collectors, lawyers, and librarians. There are gay poets, mailcarriers, and stockbrokers. Gay men come from every race and ethnic group. Lesbians are found in every religion. Bisexuals are rich, poor, and from the middle class.

No one is sure what percentage of the population is gay or lesbian, and there is considerable ongoing debate. A number of studies have been done, with varying results.1 Because of discrimination and fear, many gay people may not answer honestly when questioned about their attractions and sexual behavior, so it's hard to tell what the real percentages are. And ultimately, it doesn't really matter. What's important is that there are many lesbian, gay, and bisexual people—millions in the United States alone—and we have every reason to expect the same rights as everyone else. All people have the right to love whomever they choose and to have full, safe, and satisfying lives.

What does being gay, lesbian, or bisexual mean?

Being lesbian or gay means that a person's primary romantic, emotional, physical, and sexual attractions and connections are with someone of the same sex. Bisexual people have those attractions to both sexes. Being gay, lesbian, or bisexual is a label that identifies who we fall in love with.

Many young people question—or know—that they are lesbian or gay before they have any sexual experiences at all. Others may have had sexual experiences with the opposite sex but still feel that they are gay. Or they may have had sexual experiences with the same sex but still feel they are heterosexual.

There is an important difference between attraction and experience. You may have same-sex experiences for any number of reasons besides a genuine attraction—because you are curious, because it's convenient, or because you feel pressured. On the other hand, you might have sexual encounters with someone of the opposite sex for reasons other than your own desire—because you are trying to fit in with society's expectations, because you are lonely, because you don't know how to say no, or because your "no" isn't heeded. Your sexual orientation is more about who you truly are drawn to than about what your experience has been.

If you are a young person questioning your sexual orientation, you may find it useful to ask yourself who your most deeply felt attractions are for. Who do you get crushes on most often? Who do you usually have romantic fantasies about? Who do you really wish you could spend the rest of your life with? Or just next weekend? The answers to these questions are often helpful in beginning to sort out your feelings.

The Spectrum of Sexuality

Although it's common to feel more strongly attracted to one sex or the other, many people feel at least some amount of attraction for both sexes. Alfred Kinsey, the famous researcher of sexual behavior, found that our attractions and our sexual behaviors are seldom absolute. While there are some people who have attractions and experiences only with the same or only with the opposite sex, most people fall in between the two extremes.

We live in a society that is more comfortable when things are neatly defined—either gay or straight. But many people don't experience life quite that simply.

Bisexual People

Bisexual people have the potential to feel sexually attracted to, and to fall in love with, someone of either sex. They are able to experience desire and intimacy with a special person, regardless of gender. Alessandra, who has had relationships with both men and women, explains her feelings:

I like women because they are women and I like men because they are men. I used to think the feelings were the same, but they're not; not to me at least. The chemistry, the lovemaking, the communication is totally different. They're both wonderful and they're both part of me. I couldn't turn one set of feelings on and turn the other off. Both are always there.

Yet because society seems to like simple labels, bisexual people often experience pressure to fit into restrictive boxes. As Anni says:

I find it real hard to describe myself as bisexual because the heterosexual community closes me out for having that gay part and the homosexual community closes me out for having that heterosexual part. I think it's almost harder to be bisexual than to be just gay or straight. I'm seventeen so I'm all over the place and I'm constantly changing, and if you don't like that, tough luck. I want to say I'm bisexual a lot. Instead people call me gay. I think a lot of bisexuals are hidden. They choose one world or the other to live in. I don't think it has to be that way.

Some bisexual people date both men and women. Others are in committed monogamous relationships. And sometimes bisexuality can be a transitional stage that people go through before they discover their gay—or straight—identity.

One bisexual, Susan, says, "People always ask me if I'm confused about who I like. I'm not at all confused. It feels perfectly natural to me to be attracted to both women and men. I think what those people are really saying is that my being bisexual confuses them."

Susan has coined her own word for people who define themselves as either gay or straight. She says they are "monosexual."

Why are people gay?

Over the years there have been many theories about why some of the world's population is homosexual. Basically these theories fall into one of three possibilities: nature, nurture, or a combination of the two.

Nature, in this context, means you were born gay—it's your nature. Recently there seems to be evidence from scientific research to support this theory that homosexuality may be biologically determined.

Nurture refers to your life experience and how it has affected your development. In the past it was assumed that if you were gay, something damaging must have happened to make you that way. Now it's widely accepted that this is not true. Our experiences—both positive and negative—may play a part in determining our romantic and sexual attractions, but no one is gay or lesbian solely because of a harmful—or beneficial—experience.

While some people have favored the nature theory and some the nurture, others have proposed that a combination of both nature and nurture are involved in determining sexual orientation. At this point no one is totally sure, though scientists are continuing to study these questions.

Interestingly, although there is quite a lot of talk about why gay people are gay, no one has done much research on why straight people are straight. The reason for this, of course, is that much of our society still presumes that being heterosexual is "normal" and therefore needs no explanation, whereas being gay, lesbian, or bisexual is abnormal and so needs to be caused by something. In fact, homosexuality, bisexuality, and heterosexuality are all simply variations of human sexuality.

Understanding why people are gay may help some people accept gay, lesbian, and bisexual people. If that's so, then the information is certainly worthwhile. However, it is also possible that once scientists know why people are gay, that information could be used in discriminatory ways.

In the meantime, the question of why some people are lesbian, bisexual, and gay is less important than the fact that we are lesbian, bisexual, and gay. And that we—like all people—deserve to be treated with respect.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

1 We are everywhere 3
2 Coming into your own 15
3 Reaching out 29
4 If I live, I'll be great: Making it through hard times 44
5 Friends 61
6 Love 74
7 Sex 89
8 HIV, AIDS, and safer sex 106
9 Coming out to your family 123
10 Your family's response 140
11 Our pride and joy: for parents of gay, lesbian, and bisexual youth 160
12 School daze 191
13 Making schools safe for lesbian, gay, and bisexual students: for educators 215
14 Strategies for building a support program: for activists and educators 238
15 Religious life 259
16 The Bible 277
17 Making changes in churches and temples: for clergy and congregations 286
18 Living in your community 307
19 Creating supportive community groups: for service providers and allies 321
20 The gay, lesbian, and bisexual community 335
21 Standing up for lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth: for the adult gay community 356
Resources 367
Index 401
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 18, 2007

    Free Your Mind & the Rest Will Follow

    This book was very helpful and educational to me as a young adult who also happens to be a bisexual girl. It has six parts (self-discovery, friends & lovers, family, school, spirituality, and community) that gave a good range of info and first hand views from bisexual, lesbian, and gay teens and young adults, as well as their family members and other straight supporters. This is a great book to really free your mind and has tons of helpful resources too.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 1, 2004

    beatiful,and a helping hand

    it's one of the best help books ever. i've bought my own copy and refer to occansionally. i would reccomend this book to anyone even to my own parents! they have also bought their own copy and, have begun to understand me more everyday! so go out and read this book.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2003

    This is a great book

    This is a great book that addresses some of the hard issues of 'comig out'. It helped me a lot!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 27, 2003


    wow this book is so wonderful a useful informational guide that should be at everyschool library or anyplace with kids when i started realizeing that i was gay a little more that a year ago(i was 13) i read this book and now i am openly gay and proud of it

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 6, 2001

    A friendly, sensible guide

    This book is full of useful information for gay and lesbian youth -- everything from safe sex to how to reform a church so that it's more gay-friendly, from how to tell if someone is open-minded about 'other' sexual orientations to how to get help if you're kicked out of your house. It has lots of advice from other gay kids and cute comic strips in appropriate places. The style is conversational, direct, and sympathetic, and the advice is solid and practical. Not only does it address teens, it includes chapters for their parents, educators, and adult gay people. Transgendered concerns, unfortunately, are not explored.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 2, 2000

    Sensible, Responcible, Wondersul

    This book promotes a healthy life style for young gay people. A life style they deserve and need and that is often difficult to find among the tumult of our sexual society. This book has provided me with the best direction for my life as a young gay person, and I have recomended it, and given it, to countless numbers of people over the last 3 years.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 17, 2000

    The Book that Changed My Life

    Four years ago, at 16-years-old, I started coming out of the closet. I was nervous and scared, but excited at the same time. I started looking for resources to figure out how I fit into what I was discovering to be my life and the feelings I knew would never go away. I happened upon this book at a local store and it completely changed my life. It is full of stories of other people who have come out. I will never forget the feelings of warmth and understanding that I felt while reading this incredible book. I knew reading this, that everything would indeed fall into place. I felt fully equipped to begin my journey out.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)