Former Lesbian News publisher Ella Matthes dies

  • by Cynthia Laird, News Editor
  • Wednesday April 10, 2024
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Ella Matthes published Lesbian News magazine for many years. Photo: Gladi Adams
Ella Matthes published Lesbian News magazine for many years. Photo: Gladi Adams

Ella Matthes, longtime publisher and editor of Lesbian News magazine, died on March 16 at The Little Company of Mary hospital in Norwalk, California. She was 81.

The cause of death was a heart attack, according to an obituary that was released to media outlets.

Ms. Matthes, a lesbian, successfully ran Lesbian News magazine from 1975 until 2022. Lesbian News, more commonly known as the LN, had the distinction and responsibility of being North America's longest running lesbian publication. Founded in 1975 in Southern California, LN began as the lone voice for lesbian issues and evolved throughout the years to become the nation's foremost voice for lesbians of all ages. Some of the iconic cover stories — on lesbians and allies alike — have included names such as Melissa Etheridge, kd lang, Ellen DeGeneres, Marlee Matlin, Hillary Clinton, Toni Braxton, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Judith Light, and Janet McTeer, the obituary noted.

Her numerous contributions to the LGBTQ+ community earned her a slew of recognitions and awards, the obituary stated. She was the recipient of the 2002 Women's Night Gay & Lesbian Center's "Lesbian & Bisexual Women Active in Community Empowerment Award;" the 2002 "Business Alliance of Los Angeles Community Involvement Award;" the 2003 Southern California Women for Understanding "Community Service Award;" and the 2012 Vox Femina Los Angeles "Aria Award."

A native of Los Angeles, Ms. Matthes graduated from Dorcey 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 the young age of 15, she 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 purchased Superior Printers and ran it for decades. However, something else kept tugging at her heartstrings. According to the obituary, Ms. Matthes felt lesbians weren't receiving a lot of support and visibility and wanted to do something about it. So in 1975, she purchased Lesbian News magazine from Deborah Bergman who had acquired it from its original owner, Jinx Beers.

Ms. Matthes built a mission statement around her vision for all lesbians. "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," the mission statement read. "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."

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

Donations in Ms. Matthes' name can be made to the June Mazer Archives in West Hollywood, CA.

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