Video: President Obama makes welcome address at 9th Gay Games

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

President Obama has made a welcome address by video at the 9th annual gay games in Cleveland Ohio.

Thousands headed for Cleveland, Ohio, for the opening ceremony of the 9th Gay Games.

In the address, Obama said: “I know some of you have come from place where it requires courage — even defiance — to come out, sometimes at great personal risk.

“You should know that the United States stands with you and for your human rights, just as our athletes stand with you on the fields at these games. After all, the very idea of America is that no matter who you are, what you look like, where you come from or who you love, you can make it if you try.”

Athletes and revellers descended on Cleveland for the ceremony, despite that Ohio has become a key part of the battle over same-sex marriage in the US.

Organisers are expecting around 25,000 athletes, spectators and volunteers for the games.

The co-chair of the games, Steve Sokany said the city was a good place to change minds: “The tide is turning and I think these games can have a tremendous impact,” Sokany said in an interview. “We are trying to change stereotypes.”

Cleveland was selected back in 2009 for the competition which features athletes of all ages, gay and straight and male and female.

The United Church of Christ has been announced as the first denomination to sponsor the Gay Games.

The church is a silver sponsor of the games, the fourth highest membership of eleven levels.