Ella Matthes long-time publisher of Lesbian News dies at 81

Ella Matthes Lesbian News Obituary Dies

Gladi Adams, left, and Ella Matthes were together 26 years, including nine years as a married couple. Matthes died in March at the age of 81. Photo: Gladi Adams

Members of the lesbian community are mourning the loss of Ella Matthes, the long-time publisher of Lesbian News, also known as LN, the longest-running lesbian publication in the nation.

Matthes, who ran the Lesbian News from 1994 to 2022, died from a heart attack at The Little Company of Mary hospital in Norwalk on March 16. She was 81, according to a press release sent Friday.

Matthes’ wife Gladi Adams also shared the news on social media.

“I am sharing some sad news: Ella Matthes, the love of my life, was taken from me and all of us, from a horrible blood cancer that devastated her body and caused her to have (a) stroke and put her in the hospital for more than a month. She was hooked up to a variety of machines so that she really couldn’t communicate like she wanted to, but she would smile with her eyes and show her love and try to mouth words that were important. I could see the love in her eyes. I was there for her and I would do anything for her to get her well. While she was there she ended up having problems with her heart which eventually took her. Sadly, we lost her March 16 before we could even be by her side. I’m crazy with grief. She has been my entire world for 26 years. She will always be my life, my beacon, my love, my heart.”

Jinx Beers — pioneering feminist, Lesbian News founder — dies at 84

Early years

A Los Angeles native, Matthes graduated from Susan Miller Dorsey High School and attended UCLA for a brief period. She played the saxophone in high school and was a competition bowler for many years. 

At 15, Matthes went to work at Great Western Savings in the print shop and developed a passion for printing.

By the time she was in her 20s, she had purchased Superior Printers and ran it for decades.

Jinx Beers founds Lesbian News

The Lesbian News was founded in L.A. in 1975 by Air Force veteran Jinx Beers. It was a voice in the lesbian wilderness as The Ladder, from the Daughters of Bilitis, stopped publishing in 1972

During the 14 years Beers ran the publication, she expanded the newspaper from its humble, photo copied beginnings into a full magazine with global news, numerous columns on a wide variety of topics, and national personal ads.

In 1989, Beers sold Lesbian News to Deborah Bergman, a former Los Angeles Times reporter. With Bergman at the helm, the magazine became one of the first publications to present glamorous lesbians in print.  It featured ads for popular nightspots and “Hollywoodized” lesbians with typically feminine features — long hair, curvy figures. This presentation helped contribute to the popularity of the term “lipstick lesbian.”

Ella Matthes buys Lesbian News

Matthes bought the Lesbian News in 1994. During her tenure, numerous celebrities graced the cover, including Melissa Etheridge, kd lang, Ellen DeGeneres, Marlee Matlin, Hillary Clinton, Katy Perry, Judith Light, and Janet McTeer.

According to the press release, Matthes’ mission statement for the Lesbian News was “The editorial vision of the LN has always been to inform, entertain, and be of service to women who love women of all ages, economic class, and color. We hope women from all walks of life will not only find something of themselves in the LN, but also be accepting of those with differing opinions. Lesbian News is our small contribution to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender liberation movement.”

The Lesbian News struggled during the digital age. The print publication ended a few years ago, and the last article on the website was posted in December.

Matthes is survived by her brother Carl Matthes and her wife. Adams and Matthes were together for 26 years and married July 13, 2013.

Donations in Matthes name can be made to the June Mazer Archives in West Hollywood.

About the author

Phillip Zonkel

Award-winning journalist Phillip Zonkel spent 17 years at Long Beach's Press-Telegram, where he was the first reporter in the paper's history to have a beat covering the city's vibrant LGBTQ. He also created and ran the popular and innovative LGBTQ news blog, Out in the 562.

He won two awards and received a nomination for his reporting on the local LGBTQ community, including a two-part investigation that exposed anti-gay bullying of local high school students and the school districts' failure to implement state mandated protections for LGBTQ students.

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