Jinx Beers, the pioneering lesbian activist who founded the long-running Southern California magazine Lesbian News, has died at age 84.
Beers died Friday at Nazareth House Los Angeles, a senior living facility, her friend Wendy Averill told Q Voice News. She had been suffering from renal failure for several months and was in hospice care.
“At a time when our community needed a voice, Jinx was there,” Averill said in a statement to Q Voice News. “She created the Lesbian News at a time when our community was not organized and needed someone, something to help us rally.”
“Jinx was never a part of our history for her own gain. She did it for our community,” Averill added. “She kept such a low personal profile that some people thought she didn’t really exist.”
Beers started Lesbian News in 1975, and it still operates as both a print and an online publication. From its beginnings as a four-page monthly newsletter, it “grew into a tabloid-sized magazine that covered Southern California from Santa Barbara to San Diego,” Q Voice News reports.
“I never planned to have a publication. I had to learn everything along the way,” Beers once said, according to Q Voice News. “My point of view was it would be open to anyone in the lesbian community, and it would be free.”
“If you wanted to know where there was going to be a demonstration, how to find a therapist, locate a partner or job and a myriad of other opportunities, the LN was there,” Averill said.
Before founding the publication, Beers, a California native, had served four years in the U.S. Air Force, which she joined at age 18 in 1951, and 12 years in the Air Force Reserve. She left the military in protest of the Vietnam War and to become a more vocal lesbian activist. She was out to her military colleagues but not her commanding officers, and at the time being gay or lesbian could result in a dishonorable discharge.
“I couldn’t support the military because I didn’t believe in why we were in Vietnam,” she said recently, according to Q Voice News. “I also knew it was just a matter of time before someone would connect the dots about my being a lesbian. I didn’t want to be dishonorably discharged.”
After leaving the service, she earned a psychology degree from the University of California, Los Angeles, and then worked in the UCLA Institute of Transportation and Traffic Engineering. She also taught a class called the Lesbian Experience. She eventually became active in a variety of political groups.
She was inducted into the LGBTQ Journalists Hall of Fame in Philadelphia in 2017 for her work with Lesbian News.
A memorial service is being planned for December at the June L. Mazer Lesbian Archives in West Hollywood. Details are forthcoming.