Taking the stage at Pride Week’s open-mic night

Rae Loftis stands at the mic, clutching papers in her hand.  Loftis begins reading her poem, it’s her most recent piece, “Smile Big.”

Throughout the poem Loftis discusses the experiences she and other women have had through strangers cat-calling or approaching them because of a smile.

NKU’s Office of LGBTQ Programs & Services held an open mic night in the Student Union on Thursday as part of LGBTQ Norse Pride Week.  The room of about 30 people experienced a mix of performances ranging from singing to spoken word and poetry.

Anyone could  sign up for the chance to perform.  This is the third open mic night the program has held.

Loftis, coordinator of LGBTQ Programs & Services, said when the program was planning for Pride Week, they knew open mic night had to stay

“What I really love about all our students and our community here is the ability to be vulnerable and put yourselves out there and to know that when students are sharing their voices, stories and experiences it’s not to be taken lightly,” said Loftis.

Kristian Johnson, a former senator for student government, was a part of the voting that took place in order  to get an LGBTQ office at the university.  Despite this, Johnson said he had never been able to participate in the Pride Week open mic night.  

Johnson, a senior communications major, was finally able to participate this year and performed his own poem, “Courage,” a piece he wrote a couple years ago.

“I felt like it was an appropriate time to pull that poem out again and share it,” said Johnson.  “It took a lot of courage for me last week at ‘Dear World NKU’ to get out there and do that.”

Johnson said his favorite performance came from Morgan Bell, a senior integrative studies major, and Syreeta Briggs, a junior B.F.A. playwright major.

The two performed a loud, energetic poem together that had the audience snapping in approval to close out the open mic portion of the night.

Bell, who has been a student research assistant for the LGBTQ office for  over three years, has been involved with open mic night every year since its inception.  

“It’s always been a really great turn out,” Bell said.  “It’s really nice and it’s a cool space for people to be themselves and express themselves.”

To close out the night, Brianca Lynne Spriggs read her poems.

Spriggs, an Affrilachian poet and Cave Canem Fellow from Lexington, Kentucky, performed poems from her new book “Call Her by Her Name.”  Spriggs told the audience that she had just received physical copies of the book the day before.

Spriggs’ poems covered an array of topics, including Mary Fields, who was the first African American mail carrier in the United States, the 13 African American women in Kentucky who were lynched in the late 1800s to early 1900s, as well as the character Uhura from Star Trek, who was played by Nichelle Nichols and encouraged by Martin Luther King Jr. to stay on the show to be a role model for African American women and children.