PHOTOS: GLAAD at the Gay Games opening ceremony

Last night the 9th Gay Games, presented by the Cleveland Foundation, kicked off with its opening ceremony. If you were following GLAAD on Twitter, you may have seen some of the images. Here's a full recap of the evening:

GLAAD board member, Lana Moore, and I split up our duties. While Lana attended a reception for the Gay Games leaders and partner organizations, I was at Progressive Field, where the athletes were gathering to line up. The Gay Games even turned lining up into a party! Sirus Out Q radio was on hand to speak to several participants, while music kept everyone's spirits up.

After the participants were lined up, I joined Lana, and her friend, J, at our seats:

The parade of athletes took an hour, calling each country, and then each US state. San Francisco is the first delegation, since the Gay Games began in San Francisco in 1986.

One of the biggest moments of the night was when the 30 members of the Russian LGBT Sports Federation entered the arena. They stopped in the middle of the floor, while the crowd stood and cheered.

Greetings came from several dignitaries, including the owners Cleveland's professional sports teams, the mayors of Cleveland and Akron, Senator Sherrod Brown and his wife, Pulitizer-Prize winning columnist Connie Schultz:

And then President Obama welcomed the participants:

Entertainment included the LGBT cheer teams from New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. Those people can fly:

Lance Bass:

Alex Newell, who brought an emotional and amazing performance:

And it finally ended with probably the best torch lighting I've seen. The torch was passed from Ohio-based LGBT leader to LGBT leader, finally ending up in the hands of out Olympic speed skater, Blake Skjellerup. Skjellerup turned to each corner of the arena, and then the jumbotron did this:

And then everyone rocked out to the Pointer Sisters:

Then it was time to enjoy the crowd outside:

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GLAAD Southern Stories will elevate the experiences of LGBT people in six of the nation's southern states. The initiative amplifies stories of LGBT people thriving in the South, ongoing discrimination, as well as the everyday indignities endured by LGBT people who simply wish to live the lives they love, including stories of family, stories of faith, stories of sports, and stories of patriotism