September 24, 2014

Dr. Betty Berzon Emerging Writer Award

Applications closed – 2015 guidelines coming soon!

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The Dr. Betty Berzon Emerging Writer Award will be presented annually at the Lambda Literary Award ceremony. The award, made possible by Teresa DeCrescenzo, consists of two cash prizes of $1000.

The awards will be presented to two LGBT-identified authors. Age is not a determining factor. The award will recognize LGBT content of importance to the LGBT community and with emergent LGBT authors who have written and published up to 2 books (fiction or nonfiction), or 1 book and substantial additional literary work such as short stories and essays. A panel will be created to identify candidates & winners. Recommended winners will be reviewed by the Staff and Board of Trustees of the Lambda Literary Foundation.

If you have any questions, please direct them to Executive Director, Tony Valenzuela at

Previous winners of the Emerging Writer Award:

2014:  Imogen Binnie & Charles Rice-Gonzalez
2013: Carter Sickels & Sassafras Lowrey

About Dr. Betty Berzon

Dr. Betty Berzon (1928–2006) was an author and psychotherapist renown for her work with the LGBT community. She was among the first psychotherapists to assist gay and lesbian clients. After coming out as a lesbian in 1968, she began providing therapy to gays and lesbians, and in 1971, she helped found the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Community Services Center as well as an organization of gays and lesbians within the American Psychiatric Association, which declassified homosexuality as a mental illness two years later.

Berzon temporarily attended Stanford University before enrolling in UCLA in 1952 and graduating in 1957. She then obtained her master’s degree from San Diego State University in 1962.

Dr. Berzon’s books included Positively Gay (1979), Permanent Partners (1988), and The Intimacy Dance (1996). Berzon also wrote a personal memoir, Surviving Madness, a Therapist’s Own Story (2002) in which she discussed her previous suicide attempt and institutionalization. The book received a Lambda Literary Award in memoir. For many years, she wrote an advice column on gay relationships for

Berzon was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1986. She was treated by mastectomy and her cancer remained in remission for many years. The cancer returned in 2001, and Berzon died on January 24, 2006. She is survived by Teresa DeCrescenzo, the founder of Gay and Lesbian Adolescent Social Services, whom Berzon met in 1973 and married during a mass wedding ceremony at the 1993 March on Washington.

Dr. Betty Berzon held a lifelong passion for literature. Through this award, she wanted to ensure the support of emerging LGBT writers beyond her lifetime.

About Teresa Decrescenzo

Teresa DeCrescenzo, MSW, is a graduate of the USC School of Social Work, which honored her with its Most Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1991. She is also the Founder of the first residential program for LGBT youth in foster care in the country (Gay and Lesbian Adolescent Social Services). Terry was named Social Worker of the Year by NASW in 1990. In 1995, she was named Outstanding Administrator, while in 2005, she was given the “Pioneer Award” by the Child Welfare League of America. Terry was recognized with the Knee-Whitman Award in 2007 for her national impact on mental health policy, and was inducted into the NASW Hall of Distinction in October 2012. Among her publications is the book, Helping Gay and Lesbian Youth: New Policies, New Programs. Terry is the Director of Social Services at a large acute-care hospital and is adjunct faculty at California State University, Northridge.