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Opening Ceremonies: Out and Proud

A group of female athletes dressed in pink t-shirts and black jackets smile and wave to the crowd with colourful streamers as they walk in the parade of athletes at Opening Ceremonies. The gigantic mural of Vancouver that backed the stage is visible in the background.

A group of female athletes parade into B.C. Place for the Celebration ‘90’s Opening Ceremonies

We are out, we are proud, and we shall never, ever, again be invisible.

– Robin Tyler

The province’s largest stadium venue, B.C. Place, had hosted Pope John Paul II, the Expo ‘86 Ceremonies, and the royal visit of Prince Charles and Princess Diana. Four years later, on August 4th 1990, Celebration ‘90’s Opening Ceremonies was the first LGBTQ2S+ event held there. It was also the year’s largest multi-sport, multi-nation event in the world.

The evening was produced by Vancouver’s Max Reimer. The Lesbian and Gay Bands of America, replete with flag corps and baton twirlers, started the evening. After an official welcome by Celebration ‘90 representatives, Brent Nicholson Earle lapped the stadium, Rainbow Flag aloft. The Vancouver Chorus (an amalgam of the Vancouver Men’s Chorus and newly formed Vancouver Women’s Chorus), conducted by  Lois Weninger, sang “O Canada”.

A historic number of LGBTQ2S+ athletes paraded into B.C. Place for possibly the largest gathering of LGBTQ2S+ athletes ever held. Over 7300 athletes from 27 countries had registered. Along with the United States, athletes from Poland, Switzerland, Norway, Sweden, Japan, Zimbabwe, Guam, Ireland, Italy, England, Holland, Israel, Venezuela, and Papua New Guinea and, notably, East Germany, made up the international teams.

View video with a transcript: “Opening Ceremonies: Athletes of the World”

Next came the 1460 strong contingent of Canadian athletes – from Vancouver Island to St. John, New Brunswick and the Yukon Territory. They were followed by the host city team. Vancouver,  with the largest Canadian city representation.

View video with a transcript: “Opening Ceremonies: Parade of Canadian Athletes” 

The audience stood cheering the athletes parade for over an hour as they assembled on center field.

Political representatives Vancouver Mayor Gordon Campbell, B.C. MLA Dave Mercier, and Vancouver Park Board’s Christopher Richardson welcomed the participants to the Games. But it was Winnipeg-born M. C., Robin Tyler, long-time friend of Vancouver’s LGBTQ2S+ community, who brought the crowd to their feet. She spoke movingly of the future that the Gay Games advocated for.

View video with a transcript: “Opening Ceremonies: M.C. Robin Tyler”