Members of SHADES during the QPOC Talent Show. Credit: Ashley Kimmel

LGBTQ people of color across campus came together to showcase their talent by filling the entire space of the MLK Lounge in the Frank W. Hale Jr. Black Cultural Center with a diverse mix of performance art.

The annual QPOC Talent Show hosted by SHADES, the student organization for LGBTQ people of color, took place Wednesday evening with audience members experiencing poetry, dancing, music and stand-up comedy.

Akul Gulrajani, a third-year in computer science and engineering and an active club member, said the talent show gives queer people of color an opportunity they do not usually get.

“The QPOC talent show is our night,” Gulrajani said. “It’s a way for queer people of color to showcase their talents and in particular, not be outshined by their white peers.”

The evening began with free food and chatter while audience members waited for the show to begin. Among the performers was Ogechi Mgbudem, a third-year in French and the club’s secretary, who sang Janelle Monae’s, “It’s Cold,” a song she said she knows by heart and to which she can relate.

“It’s about rejection from someone that you love and someone that you thought things would work out with,” Mgbudem said.

This was Mgbudem’s second QPOC talent show, and though she has been singing since grade school, she said she felt anxious when she performed for the first time. It was the overwhelming amount of support from audience and club members that gave her the confidence to continue her passion.

Mgbudem said she struggled with the fear of searching for a group like SHADES when she started at Ohio State because she hadn’t fully accepted herself.  

“To seek other people out is to acknowledge this part of yourself, and when you’re not in a position to acknowledge that part, it gets a bit uncomfortable,” Mgbudem said.

Her active role in the club, however, is something Mgbudem said has given her the comfort and acceptance for which she yearned.

“I feel more confident in who I am because I know people who are like me,” Mgbudem said.  

Sam Yakin, a fourth-year in psychology and anthropology and the co-president of SHADES, said the talent show is what the club is working to establish as something for which they’re known.

Aside from the yearly show, Yakin said the club has weekly meetings that range from discussing different topics to a more relaxed setting where members can interact with each other.

Yakin said he found a community in the club and that he would not be the same person without it.

“This club is definitely my chosen family. These are my friends, my family, and I’m really close to them,” Yakin said.