Rip Naquin, whose same-sex domestic partnership was the first in New Orleans when it was registered in 1993, died Tuesday at Chateau de Notre Dame nursing home of kidney failure. He was 63.
Naquin published Ambush, a biweekly magazine for the city's LGBT community, with his partner, who was born Martin Greeson but is known as Marsha Naquin-Delain.
They were two of the five grand marshals of Southern Decadence, New Orleans' largest gay street fair, in 2015.
New Orleans was the 29th U.S. municipality to create a registry of domestic partners, and Naquin and Delain were the first in line when the rolls opened at City Hall on Sept. 3, 1993.
"We never thought there would be gay marriage back then," Naquin said in a June 2015 interview with The Times-Picayune, published on the second anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning the federal Defense of Marriage Act. "We thought this was the height of recognition we could get as a couple."
Ambush writer Frank Perez recalled being at work laying out magazine pages when Naquin received word of the Supreme Court ruling. "We both looked at each other and just started crying," Perez said. "It was a very powerful moment."
The Naquin-Delains married in New York in 2013, on their 40th anniversary together. They had met outside a Bourbon Street bar in 1973, moved in together in Baton Rouge, and launched Ambush magazine in 1982 before moving to New Orleans in 1985.
Since 1986, the Ambush offices have been on the first floor of 828 Bourbon St., with the proprietors' residence on the second and third floors. Legendary parties took place at the 1830s "Ambush Mansion," especially during Carnival.
The most "enthusiastic" bead-thrower on the balcony on Mardi Gras would be chosen as the King Cake Queen, who would be honored at a formal, invitation-only coronation ball during the next year's Carnival, according to Brian Sands, who has been Ambush's theater critic since 2002.
Social events at the mansion were often occasions to raise money for charity. In August 2015, for example, a Magnolia Cotillion celebrating the couple's second wedding anniversary raised money for the costs of the free public events of Southern Decadence and for its charities: the LGBT+ Archives Project of Louisiana, the Louisiana Equality Foundation and the PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) New Orleans Scholarship Fund.
Naquin had a key role in the evolution of Southern Decadence from a private party in 1972 to an international Labor Day weekend event with an estimated economic impact of $216 million in 2015, when participants brought in more than $39,000 for charity. Internet publicity through Ambush was a key factor in the evolution of the event, Perez said.
About 2013, Perez said, Naquin stepped in as a board member to strengthen the structure of Southern Decadence's finances.
"He loved Southern Decadence, because it is one of the things that makes New Orleans unique," Perez said.
The longevity of Ambush magazine, at a time "when many other publications have gone by the wayside," is a tribute to Naquin's business sense, Sands said.
Naquin was also a strong supporter of the First Amendment, open to publishing opinions that might offend advertisers, both Sands and Perez said.
Sands recalled asking Naquin whether he should ease up on a negative review of a theater production that had been advertised in Ambush, and Naquin replied, " 'No, call it as you see it.' "
In addition to Delain, survivors include two brothers, Michael and Leroy Naquin Jr., and three sisters, Catherine Vaughn, Cynthia Chaisson and Suzanne Cameron.
A Mass will be said at 11 a.m. Saturday at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church, 411 N. Rampart St. Visitation will begin at 10 a.m. Burial will be private. Tharp-Sontheimer-Tharp Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
Editor's note: This story was changed Aug. 15 to correct when the photo was taken.