Family tensions in an Arab-American household. The dawning realization of gay love in Nazi Germany. These were among the winning themes in Bethesda Magazine’s fifth annual Short Story Contest, which was co-sponsored by Bethesda Urban Partnership (BUP) and open to Montgomery County residents and people living in the 20015 and 20016 ZIP codes of Washington, D.C. More than 100 adults entered the contest. And more than 100 students in grades nine through 12 entered the young adult competition.

At the same time, the magazine and BUP sponsored a 500-word essay contest that was open to residents of Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Virginia. Nearly 100 adults and about 50 young adults entered. The subject: “Who or what has influenced, motivated or inspired you, and how has it shaped your outlook on life?” The answers to that question often were poignant and inspiring themselves.

The winners in each competition were awarded cash prizes of up to $500.