Saturday night, I had the very great privilege of attending the opening ceremonies of Gay Games 9, hosted by Cleveland + Akron, Ohio (thanks Scott!). My beloved Martin and I shared the evening with Joe (Scott’s “better” half), as well as our friends Todd, Suzanne and Gina. The opening ceremonies were AWESOME! Lasting about 3.5 hours, we witnessed the parade of nations (I teared up when the Russian delegation got a HUGE ovation – it was super loud and super long), were entertained by celebrities as diverse as Lance Bass, Alex Newell (“Unique” from GLEE!) and legendary Olympic medalist and LGBT activist Greg Louganis. The evening closed with the current version of The Pointer Sisters “tearing it up,” turning the arena into a HUGE dance club. It was a fantastic event. Immediately after, our group walked the streets of downtown Cleveland, heading over to Olympic Village, taking in all the excitement and energy that filled the air along the way. I can honestly say that I have never felt more proud of and for our city – I mean, our Mayor was at the ceremonies as well as several of Cleveland and Ohio’s most-loved legislators (including a Senator!). We even had a taped message from President Obama himself… The whole evening was fantastic – standing on the streets, I felt like I was in San Francisco, Toronto or NYC. Great job, CLE! Let’s keep this positivity and momentum going for the city I love! I must confess – prior to attending the ceremonies, I couldn’t understand why we needed “gay” games – like, I never wanted to be the best “gay” interior designer, I just wanted to be the best interior designer. Period. That said, since experiencing the joy and fellowship of the ceremonies (and finding out that I have several straight allies participating in the “gay” games), I have really come to understand and embrace the game’s commitment to inclusion. Last night we sat among men and women of many sexual orientations; I saw kids and grandparents, spouses and siblings, friends and family ALL come together to celebrate and share. It was beautiful. I now know that maybe being the best and being gay are not mutually-exclusive, and that maybe one can be the best AND be gay. What a concept, huh? Please support Gay Games 9 Cleveland + Akron. Help spread the word that northeast Ohio is one of the best-kept secrets in America… Go All OUT!