WorldPride kicks off in Toronto

Nicole, left, and partner Tayler was among thousands at Nathan Phillips Square Friday evening for...

Nicole, left, and partner Tayler was among thousands at Nathan Phillips Square Friday evening for the kickoff to WorldPride in Toronto. (Dave Thomas/QMI Agency)

Jenny Yuen, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:32 PM ET

TORONTO -- For a party this big, you need a giant flag.

Patrick Markle, 46, sporting a large homemade rainbow flag, was among thousands at Nathan Phillips Square Friday evening for the kickoff to WorldPride, an international 10-day celebration of the LGBTQ community hosted this year by Toronto.

"My friends invited me last-minute to the flag-raising (earlier in the day at City Hall) and I'll never be one to go without a little bit of spirit," Markle said. "I couldn't make a dress out of it and still look halfway decent, so I figured flag would be the best thing."

Markle, who has seen Pride transform over the years from a political march against gay bathhouse raids to a party scene, said the grassroots meaning of the peaceful and diverse event still speaks to him.

"This was about community and it still kind of is," he said. "It doesn't seem like we have to stand up and be noticed anymore because we've been so well accepted."

Some of the performers at Friday night's concert included singers Deborah Cox, Steve Grand and headliner Melissa Etheridge.

Two women from Moncton came to WorldPride to celebrate their first Toronto Pride event together.


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