Thousands of LGBTQ athletes from dozens of countries marched into Stade Jean Bouin Saturday evening for the Opening Ceremony of Gay Games 10. The grand opening has been a fixture of every Gay Games since the event was first created in 1982.

We’ll get into the sordid details of the Opening Ceremony at a later date. Suffice it to say, by the time the ceremony ended around 11:30 p.m. (it started at 7 p.m.), the athletes and spectators had already almost entirely cleared out of the stadium.

Still, the athletes and their participation at the Games should always be the focus of the Opening Ceremony, and it was a joy to spend time with them before and during the Parade of Nations.

The life of the party were the Mexicans, who brought tons of color, pageantry and song to the event. Their excitement was contagious.

One athlete represented Macau, and before the Parade of Nations he gave a lovely, very brief speech to the crowd that was full of love and joy.

It was particularly inspiring to see athletes from places like Kenya, Uganda and Malaysia, where same-sex sexual activity is still illegal, and where trans people are afforded no recognition or rights. It was interesting that the crowd gave the Russian delegation a standing ovation, but the Africans and Asians facing jail time for homosexuality got only polite applause. Over the next week we’ll be highlighting some of the athletes from Africa who have risked a lot by simply coming to the Gay Games.

If you’re interested, you can watch the almost five-hour broadcast of the Gay Games Opening Ceremony here.