|Participants from Ohio enter the Quicken Loans Arena for the Gay Games 9 Opening Ceremony.|
The Gay Games 9 Opening Ceremony was nothing short of astounding as participants from more than 50 countries and 48 states were welcomed Saturday night at the Quicken Loans Arena. The procession of participants was led by San Francisco, host of the first Gay Games in 1982, and countries that sent one representative received the loudest applause, among them Bulgaria, Chile, Iceland and Liberia. But the level of noise was incomparable when the Russian Federation arrived and they were greeted with hugs from Gay Games staff and volunteers and received a standing ovation from thousands of spectators. Akron joined the celebration with three drag stars as they performed Tina Turner's “Proud Mary” while dancers used giant tires as props in homage to the city's reputation for being the Rubber Capital of the World. The ceremony featured appearances by Olympic gold medalist Greg Louganis and performances by Lance Bass and Bella Blue, Andrea McArdle, the Pointer Sisters and a breathtaking number by Glee star Alex Newell singing “I Know Where I've Been.” Plus, there were plenty of surprises, including a personal message from President Barack Obama and an address from Sen. Sherrod Brown and his wife Connie Schultz. “Welcome to the state of Ohio where we are moving ever closer, with one court ruling at a time, to marriage equality,” Schultz said. “In Northeast Ohio, we celebrate love in all its forms. We celebrate families in every configuration.” Michelle Tomallo, board president of Plexus, was among six local LGBT activists tasked with passing on the torch to New Zealand's Olympic speed skater, Blake Skjellerup. Check out our photos below, and stay tuned as we continue with daily coverage of the games.
|Mexico's soccer team Didesex arrives at the opening ceremony. Photo Credit: Christopher Hawks|
|Photo Credit: Christopher Hawks|
|Lance Bass and Bella Blue perform their single, “Walking On Air.”|
|Dancers clad as superheroes perform to Bonnie Tyler's “I Need a Hero.”|
|Alex Newell and Andrea McArdle kick up the sass and perform Broadway hit “Take Me or Leave Me” from Rent.|
|Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson and Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic welcome Gay Games participants.|