Open mic celebrates LGBT history month

Shelby Devitt

In celebration of LGBT History Month, CAB Café and the LGBT Resource Center presented Express Yourself, an open mic event that encouraged students to share their poetry and songs Friday night in the Diversions Lounge.

Rockford slam poet Amelia Garcia was the guest of honor and co-host for the evening.

“No judgments will be passed, only positivity,” said Syed Warsi, CAB associate vice president for unity and diversity and senior family, consumer and nutrition sciences major.

Warsi said the evening was not about competition, but about being open-minded and accepting of others’ work. He then passed the mic to Garcia, who opened the evening with a few of her poems before going on to introduce student acts.

Members of CAB and the LGBT Resource Center approached Garcia when both organizations wanted to put on a poetry event. Garcia performed at the House Cafe, 263 E. Lincoln Highway, on numerous occasions last year and said she enjoys coming to DeKalb.

“The difference in here and Rockford is that there’s always people at shows here,” Garcia said. “Performing in front of an audience is important for artists.”

Senior history major Adam Lopez co-hosted the event with Garcia, performing some of his own work under his stage name, Librotraficante Flo-pez.

The performers were introduced with their stage name, or just their first name, and read poetry and performed raps, songs and dialogues alone and in groups. Student jazz group Sound District maintained a cafe atmosphere by playing during breaks and between spoken word acts.

John Smith, sophomore music education and jazz performance major, said the group, composed entirely of NIU music students, came together last year and plays gigs around DeKalb. They played at Taste of Northern in August.

While this event was co-sponsored by CAB and the LGBT Resource Center as part of LGBT History Month, Express Yourself was supported by other organizations, like the Latino Resource Center, Latino Student Alliance and Poetic Asylum. It is also Latino Heritage Month, according to Lopez.

“The whole purpose is to get people of different backgrounds to know each other and explore ideas,” Warsi said.

CAB Cafe plans on more events this semester, said LaTasha Bennett, CAB vice president for programming and senior community leadership and civic engagement major.

These include a karaoke night on Oct. 19, a comedy show on Oct. 31, another spoken word performance on Nov. 9 and Legend Unplugged, an acoustic performance by DeKalb music scene veterans Legend Haz It, on Nov. 30.

The LGBT Resource Center and Latino Resource Center are hosting events for the duration of October. More information can be found at niu.edu/lgbt/resourcecenter and niu.edu/lrc.

All the LGBT events are open to the public.