Berzon, Betty. “Surviving Madness: The Betty Berzon Story’, Spinster’s Ink, 2002.
Remembering Our Heroes
Betty Berzon is one of the heroes of the LGBT community and we should all be made aware of the contributions that she made. She knew important people and filled her life with them, she seemed to be everywhere yet she suffered internally not only with her own issues but with the issues that our community was faced. Berzon was a main character in the fight for gay rights and her story is dramatic. At the age of 40, she came out as a lesbian and an activist. She was an author of books about gay relationships (“Permanent Partners”, “Positively Gay”). She made this world a better place for all of us.
Berzon had her own demons and dealt with them in a society that did not want her around. When she was 22, she was committed to a mental institution after an attempted suicide. Before that she had a colorful childhood and a wonderful young adulthood but was not complete in her relationships with men and several attempted to “cure” her of her lesbian tendencies and actions.
She wrote this memoir beautifully and it actually reads like a novel. This is a new edition of the original and we quickly see that she was indeed a pioneer. Her book is a look at what it was like coming out in the beginning of our movement. She would not be labeled and she wanted freedom for everyone, not just for our community.
This edition is a re-release with notes “by her life-partner, Teresa Decrescenzo, whose own poignant prose fills out the last chapter of Dr. Betty’s intense journey”. There is a lot of pain here but there is also a great deal of joy. Perhaps it was Berzon’s survival of madness that made her into the strong person she became and this is essential reading who cares about equality.
- Posted in: GLBT memoir and/or biography