CLEVELAND — President Barack Obama gave a surprise video address at the Opening Ceremony of the International Gay Games in Cleveland on Saturday. The thousands of athletes and spectators from around the world who gathered in the Quicken Loans Arena stood and cheered throughout much of the video.
The president reiterated his administration’s commitment to LGBT rights internationally, speaking directly to the attendees who were from nations where coming out can come “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 field at these games,” Obama said in the video.
A full transcript of the video follows:
“Welcome to the 2014 Gay Games. And to the thousands of athletes, coaches, family and spectators from around the world, welcome to Ohio and the United States of America.”
“Since 1982, the Gay Games have given lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender athletes and supporters around the world a chance to come together to compete, celebrate and inspire others. It’s been remarkable to see the Games thrive over the years.”
“We’ve also seen America change in that time, even since 2006, when the Games were last held in the United States in my hometown of Chicago.”
“We’ve come a long way in our commitment to the equal rights of LGBT people here and around the world. I’m proud of my Administration’s record and of the citizens who have helped to push for justice.”
“I know that some of you have come from places 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 field 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. That’s who we are, that’s who we should continually strive to be.”
“We’re also a country that loves competition, so let’s get these games underway.”
“Good luck to the athletes, have a great time in Cleveland and Akron, and go Team U.S.A.”