It seems like forever since my last Under the Gaydar article but it has only been a few mere months. As you grow older, time becomes a much more precious commodity and life has a way demonstrating that in spades. I remember when I first approached Rip about writing a column for Ambush. I wanted to promote and covering the events both gay and straight in our city.
Rip and Marsha liked the idea and Under the Gayday was born. Since then, I have written about many different topics, did interviews with some very noteworthy people, went to countless events and parties, described great places to travel., but most of all feeling I was part of something special. As years flew by and I found myself Easter Grand Marshal, then on the Gay Easter Parade Board, Pride Grand Marshal and just recently Southern Decadence Grand Marshal. Through all these wonderful things, there was one wonderful constant, my article in Ambush. Contributing to the magazine gave me a better understanding of the people around me in the community.
Rip and Marsha created such an incredible force in our gay community with this publication in a time when we needed to come together more than ever. In 1982 with AIDS was decimating this country, this young couple started the oldest and largest LGBT+ publications in the Gulf South. I was humbled and honored to have been a small part of that and continue to be excited as Ambush reemerges.
King Cake Coronations, bead tosses, Mardi Gras balls, Easter fundraisers or just sitting on the balcony shooting the breeze on a random Friday afternoon, I was lucky enough to spend lots of time with Rip and Marsha. But one of my fondest highlights was joining them for their wedding in New York; that truly was a joyous occasion. Their smiles and happiness was luminous.
Rip was a force to be reckoned with. Armed with a quick and sometimes wicked wit, Southern charm and business acumen, it is easy to see why Ambush was so successful. Supporting so many causes in our community, he and Marsha gave so many fundraisers, charities and organizations not just money, but their time and energy as well as recognition in their publication. Ambush has meant so many different things to so many people from their fun picture pages (it is so much fun to see your picture in the paper, especially when it is color) to the articles that span every aspect of our community. It united us not just for big events like Mardi Gras, Southern Decadence and Easter but throughout the year. Ambush was not just a magazine, it was a beacon of information, festivity and community.
I do not think the realization of how epic a presence Rip Naquin-Delain’s played in not just my life but that of the entire New Orleans community until I started writing this column. He was a great man who made our community and city a better place for all of us. Whether you knew him well or never met him, if you are gay and living in our city, he touched your life for the better. He cared about his publication, his city and his community and he proved it daily.
Rip, thank you so much. I do not ever think I said that enough to you and Marsha. But I am a better writer, activist, professional and yes even a better gay because of our friendship. Rest in peace my dear friend.
Now as Ambush continues on with two dynamic new owners, I am excited to once again be part of something I considered as my home for many years. So in the issues to come, you will see my column take on a new facelift. I hope the readers join us on this exciting new journey. With all the turmoil in the world and our own political system, now more than ever the gay community needs to have a voice. I am looking forward to Ambush being one of the loudest voices in that choir.