Gay Games 9 kicked off in Cleveland Saturday with an opening ceremony at Qicken Loans Arena, home of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The opening ceremony featured video addresses by Barack Obama, Jason Collins and Robbie Rogers. Lance Bass and the Pointer Sisters performed, along with gay band, chorus and cheer teams.

Some of the loudest applause of the night came for political statements. The Russian delegation for the Games got loud cheers, and the crowd gave a standing ovation to Tom Waddell Award winner Elvina Yuvakaeva, an outspoken member of the Russian LGBT Sports Federation.

The best part of the opening ceremony for us is always meeting some of the athletes in the holding area before the ceremony. I've seen track & field runner Trent Hagler and soccer player Steve Nick at every Gay Games I've been to (started in 2002), and it's always great to see them. Plus, we ran into guys from England who are headed to Fire Island after the Games and will be there when I'm there next week.

Now, on to the competitions…

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