Deb Price: The journalist who opened the world’s eyes on LGBTQ issues
Deb Price, or Deborah Jane Price, was an award-winning journalist and author who wrote the first nationally syndicated column on LGBTQ issues in mainstream newspapers.
Price died at the age of 62 last November 20 at a hospital in Hong Kong, where she had been living with her wife, Joyce Murdoch, for many years. The cause of death was interstitial pneumonitis.
Deb Price: A real trailblazer
Price wrote for the Detroit News, Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal. She also taught journalism at Harvard. Likewise, she wrote a number of bestselling books– two of them with her wife.
However, Price was well known for her nationally-syndicated column that was published in broadsheets.
Joshua Benton, founder and director of the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University and an investigative reporter at the Dallas Morning News, said Price was “a real trailblazer for LGBTQ people in newsrooms.”
Likewise, Benton described Price’s column: “It’s hard to overestimate how significant this was. This was long before the internet gave Americans a window into any topic or community they wanted.”
“Most Americans in 1992 said they don’t know a single gay person. Then suddenly there was Deb, on the breakfast table next to the sports section,” he added.
The first syndicated national LGBTQ column
Born in Lubbock, Texas on February 27, 1958, Price grew up in Bethesda, Maryland. She went to Stanford University for a bachelor’s and master’s degrees in literature.
She started out at the The Northern Virginia Sun and the news agency States News Service, which provided syndicated news coverage in Washington.
She joined The Washington Post in 1984 as editor where she met her future partner, Murdoch. From then, she joined the Washington bureau of the Detroit News.
It was there she got her debut column in 1992, which was the first syndicated national column on gay life in mainstream media.
Price went on to write over 900 columns, helping to shape the public’s cultural attitudes and perceptions.
She won a Lambda Literary Award for her 2001 book Courting Justice, Gay Men and Lesbians v. the Supreme Court. She was later inducted into the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association’s Hall of Fame in 2009.
In 2011, she attended Harvard University as a Nieman journalism fellow. After, she moved to Hong Kong where she went to work for the Asian Wall Street Journal, Caixin Global, and the South China Morning Post.
The couple Deb Price and Joyce Murdoch
In an email to the Bay Area Reporter, Murdoch explained that Price was diagnosed with the autoimmune disorder nine years ago.
Murdoch said Price “lived life fully, including working at the Hong Kong South China Morning Post” before she was hospitalized last September 3.
The two met while at the Post and were married in Toronto on June 27, 2003, “the first place on the planet that non-resident American gay couples could marry,” Murdoch wrote.
She added that, “We were among the very first American couples to be legally married.” They were also the first same-sex couple to have their marriage announced on the Post’s wedding page.
Murdoch wrote on Facebook that Deb’s “18 years as a groundbreaking gay columnist changed lives, healed families, and helped our nation progress toward being a more perfect union.”
“She was the center of my universe. So much of what I’ve achieved personally and professionally was possible because Deb believed in me, encouraged me, loved me,” she said.
She added, “For 35 years we were a helluva team. She will live on in my heart forevermore.”