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

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.