Hundreds of thousands of Montrealers turned out with their rainbow flags to celebrate the 36th annual Montreal Pride Parade on Sunday.

Among those marching were Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Premier Francois Legault, as well as New Democratic Party Leader Jagmeet Singh and Green Party Leader Elizabeth May.

Trudeau, Singh and May also walked together in Vancouver's Pride parade earlier this month.

"It's about saying no to homophobia, it's about saying no to transphobia, no to hatred and disrcimination in every form," said Trudeau. 

"For the first time, I feel really, totally relaxed about who I am," said Pride Parade Grand Marshal Ma-Nee Chacaby. 

Co-Grand Marshal Monica Helms gained fame for creating the Transgender Pride flag 20 years ago. Helms, who spent eight years serving in the United States Navy went on to become an ardent defender of transgender rights.

"It feels amazing that people are using it all over the world," she said. "I've fought congress, state legislators. I've done a lot of things, helped veterans. It's been a long and arduous journey."

The parade caps off an 11-day festival that included drag shows, concerts, panels, and tours of Montreal's Gay Village neighbourhood.

But Montreal Pride president Eric Pineault says the event is about more than celebration, noting the organization received a record number of transphobic and homophobic messages on its social media platforms this year.

"This is the worst year for hate messages on our social media platform, so we still have to educate people for sure," he said. "We have to protect trans people, we have to protect intersex people. We have to take care of our own so the combat is not finished, the struggle is not finished."

- With files from The Canadian Press