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New Years Gala to fundraise for Southeastern Ohio Rainbow Alliance

Residents of Athens will have a chance to help fundraise for the Southeastern Ohio Rainbow Alliance on New Year’s Eve by attending its First Annual New Years Extravaganza.

Chris Nevil, finance director and interim assistant executive director for the alliance, aims to raise $2,500 and have at least 100 people attend the dress-to-impress gala, which will celebrate the beginning of the new year with a ball drop inspired by the passion flower at Passion Works Studio and more. 

Nevil said the event will include a champagne toast and a bar, along with non-alcoholic drinks, desserts and music. 

“As far as I know, we’re the only event that is kind of having a dress-up with dessert and dancing and a bar where we will have signature drinks,” Nevil said. “We could really use the fun. It’s just going to be a good time.”

Zteffen Abikanile, a Southeastern Ohio Rainbow Alliance board member, wants people to dress up but not too much so, as they think the event will be more of a social gathering and a get together rather than a formal affair. 

“We’re putting a lot of effort and energy into making this a magical and beautiful night,” Abikanile said. “It’s an extravaganza, so expect to have it be very festive, and the ambiance is very festive and glamorous. We’re going to a have a red carpet, and we’re going all out with the decorations.”

As a DJ themself, Abikanile is especially excited about the dance party at the gala. They said the evening will likely start with some classical and jazz selections, and as the night progresses, more DJ-type music will be played. 

The event faces competition from the New Year's Eve Gala at the Dairy Barn, as both the events are being organized on the same day and time.

Abikanile wants people to attend the First Annual New Years Extravaganza, which costs $15 less than the gala at Dairy Barn, because of the cheaper ticket and drink costs. 

“We have a pretty reasonable rate for our tickets,” Abikanile said. “And we have a lot more to offer and a lot of things that are exclusive to our event. You just have to be there to see it.” 

Nevil said the gala is different from similar events, as the gala offers a chance to dress up and will feature LGBTQ artist Luke Boyd, whose paintings will be on sale. Funds raised from art sales will also help fundraise for the alliance. 

Boyd, whose paintings often depict baked goods, believes cakes and similar treats are a metaphor for life, which can be seen especially through his work. He thinks people can spend all their life building something special like a baker spends time crafting a cake, only for it to be eaten by people in mere seconds.

Creating paintings of baked goods has also been nostalgic for Boyd because of his grandmother, who made him realize that a cake is something special to be shared among people. 

The paintings also help him express his identity as a queer artist. 

“Baking and painting has been a form of my own queer expression,” said Boyd, who is a graduate student studying painting and drawing. “It’s hard for me to put it to words. I felt like baking and painting has been an outlet for me to be absolutely flamboyant and over the top. I think that beauty and elegance is a language that does relate to how I express my gender and sexuality.”

A majority of the proceeds earned will go toward an office space for the alliance, as it does not have a physical location. The current office operates out of the Ohio University LGBT Center as delfin bautista, who is the director of the center, is also an alliance board member.

The rest of the proceeds will go toward organizing other events. 


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