What a show. What an amazing, creative, interesting, intelligent, beautifully crafted show.

And what a sense of relief.

Sydney 2002 Gay Games pulled it off. Despite doubts, despite nerves, despite fears that tickets wouldn’t sell, Saturday’s night opening ceremony for Gay Games VI was an emphatic celebration of queer culture, and a fitting kickstart to eight days of competition.

Highlight moments of the evening included Justice Michael Kirby’s speech (reproduced in full at right), the appearance of the indigenous creation spirit Biame, the parade of heroes, the pompom stunt and the massed gay and lesbian choirs of the world singing Happy Birthday to k.d. lang.

But it was a night of many highlights, too many to list here in full.

Opening ceremony director Ignatius Jones told Sydney Star Observer this week that he thought it was a truly remarkable evening.

The athletes parade turned out to be one of the highlights of the evening, he said. And the pompoms were an act of genius -“ if I do say so myself.

A last-minute rush on tickets (over 2,000 tickets were sold in the 24 hours prior to the event) gave organisers a near capacity crowd in Aussie Stadium.

That puts paid to the doomsayers, said an obviously pleased Jones.

Spectators remain divided over the question of who put on the best performance of the evening. Judi Connelli raised spirits with This Is My Life and I Am What I Am, while Paul Capsis and Leah Howard performed rousing renditions of Suffragette City and Sexual Revolution respectively. Jimmy Somerville gave a high-energy rendition of Why, while k.d. lang brought tears to many an eye with You’ll Never Walk Alone, followed by Our Day Will Come. Shauna Jensen gave You Gotta Be great soul and verve.

The national anthem was an unexpected highlight for many. It was sung in three parts: the first verse by a small Children of the Rainbow choir; the second verse by Deborah Cheetham; and the third verse featured the massed gay and lesbian choirs of the world.

With the glitter now (almost) settled on the opening ceremony, Jones and his team are turning their minds to Saturday’s closing ceremony, Corroboree, at Fox Studios.

This weekend’s ceremony will be very, very different, Jones promised. It will be more intimate, and much more low-key.

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