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LGBT Folks Mourn Death of “Ask Beth” Columnist  

LGBT Folks Mourn Death of “Ask Beth” Columnist  

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For 35 years, Elizabeth Winship penned the syndicated "Ask Beth" column, which appeared in dozens of newspapers around the country. When she died Sunday at 90 in her hometown of Roseville, Minnesota, more than few LGBT fans shed a tear. That's because from 1963 to 1998, Winship's "Ask Beth" was one of the few people offering real advice to teens -- and that meant a lot of queer and questioning kids.

According to TheNew York Times, Winship began reviewing books for The Boston Globe in the early 1950s and later became its children's book editor. In 1963, editors asked her to write a column that would connect with young readers. It did and that's because "Ask Beth" would talk honestly about sex, masturbation, attraction, and, yes, sexual orientation.

By the time Winship retired in 1998, the Times writes, one young adult had written her: "I grew up in a small town as a gay teen. Reading the letters in your column from other gay teens, along with your reassurance and frank and honest information, helped me realize that I was not some freak of nature, helped me through one more day, and I believe, may have saved my life."


That gay kid was one of many. In the 1980s, "Ask Beth" was the voice of the coming of (teen) age Gen Xer, an older sister figure who didn't think our questions were weird or stupid. She used words like penis and vagina -- no euphemisms like winky and vajayjay -- and her advice often helped befuddled newspaper-reading parents as much as their progeny.

Though Winship's daughter Peg took over the column from 1998 to 2006, kids in today's web-saturated world won't find Winship's steady voice in their daily newspapers. But she lives on in the hearts and memories of a generation of LGBT folks, many of whom are parents themselves now.

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Diane Anderson-Minshall

Diane Anderson-Minshall is the CEO of Pride Media, and editorial director of The Advocate, Out, and Plus magazine. She's the winner of numerous awards from GLAAD, the NLGJA, WPA, and was named to Folio's Top Women in Media list. She and her co-pilot of 30 years, transgender journalist Jacob Anderson-Minshall penned several books including Queerly Beloved: A Love Across Genders.
Diane Anderson-Minshall is the CEO of Pride Media, and editorial director of The Advocate, Out, and Plus magazine. She's the winner of numerous awards from GLAAD, the NLGJA, WPA, and was named to Folio's Top Women in Media list. She and her co-pilot of 30 years, transgender journalist Jacob Anderson-Minshall penned several books including Queerly Beloved: A Love Across Genders.