If someone had told me I would be living in Canada two years ago, I’d probably ask that person if they needed medication. I mean, I always saw myself basking in the sun on a beautiful Caribbean beach in January, ya right!

The truth is, my life was already planned out. I wanted my partner and I to build a future together in my country of birth — Antigua and Barbuda. We already had a nice apartment, a four-legged son, we both drove our own vehicles and had great jobs. All that was missing was “acceptance”!

As insignificant as that word may seem, “acceptance” is everything to a lesbian, and just like any other member of the LGBTQ community and I just wanted to be loved and respected for who I am.

Unfortunately, living in a Caribbean country that has laws against same-sex unions and being with a stud was no easy feat, so when homophobes decided that we were not worthy of existing in the same space as them, I told my partner that it was time to say goodbye to everything and everyone.

We landed at Toronto Pearson International Airport on April 1, 2015 and our lives have changed since then.

Settling into Toronto was better than we anticipated and we soon found friends from all walks of life. The multi-culturalism in this city is simply refreshing. We even found a home away from home in MCC where we go for fellowship from time to time, and Church Street — a place where I would eventually find inspiration to do more for my rainbow family.

I remember our first time walking on Church Street. Words cannot describe the feeling. Let’s just say, I found true freedom and happiness. My fiancé and I have been to queer-friendly spaces in other countries, but this was an entire village for us. We have dined on Church Street, sang karaoke on Church Street, partied on Church Street, celebrated Pride on Church Street, and you get the point by now. Oh! Our first kiss in Canada was on Church Street. OK! I’m done.

What really stands out for me in the last year and months of being in Canada is how much I have grown as an individual, even though I have done quite a lot in my 30 years on this earth. However, I always knew that my purpose was and still is, making a difference in this world. When you are in a happy place in your life, you somehow find the strength to do things you never imagined and that’s exactly what happened to me after my arrival.

With my background in media and communications, I started a YouTube Channel called Island Lez Talk where my fiancé and I share videos about our lives and discuss issues affecting the LGBTQ community, especially in the Caribbean. The day I decided to do that was the moment I told myself that I needed to help save lives through knowledge.

Since moving here, I also rediscovered my passion for singing and writing music, and have been performing at various events, even competing in Hidden Talent Canada where I walked away with second-place, and a dream of becoming a recording artiste. I look forward to the day when I get to perform at Pride celebrations across the world for my rainbow family. Now that would be everything!

Another note-worthy moment was being able to witness the swearing-in of a new Prime Minister and then actually meeting him at my second Pride celebration. Although I am all about the ladies, I will admit that Justin Trudeau is one fine specimen of a man, with an amazing heart. That’s all!

I’ll say this about Canada though, I don’t think I’ll ever get used to the winters, but I don’t care. I’ll take a snow storm any day in exchange for me being able to live as my true self.

If you have never been deprived of being who you are both inside and out, then consider yourself extremely blessed. For many like me who grew up in a homophobic society, life can be very depressing. You can wake up on any day and decide to give up. Every day is a struggle to survive and that is an internal battle when you are locked away in the closet because of the fear of being persecuted for being a lesbian; for being gay; for being a transgender; just for being you.

Being in Canada has only pushed those thoughts out the window as I am surrounded by many who believe in acceptance and tolerance. In fact, just being able to hold my fiancé’s hand without looking over my shoulder is a blessing, and for that I am eternally grateful and hopeful about our future.

We are now in 2017 and my days of feeling like a tourist have ended. While my fiancé goes off to work as a professional truck driver (Yep! She is the ultimate badass), I will continue to bring awareness to HIV/AIDS in the daytime, with my Black-CAP family, and serenade lovers of music in the night when I’m not in the studio.

All in all, my journey in Canada to-date has been simply amazing! It was April Fool’s Day when we touched down at Pearson, but I kid you not when I say that Canada is my heart and Toronto is my home sweet home!

About the Author

“Born on the Caribbean island of Antigua and Barbuda, Tasheka worked as a Journalist, Event Host and TV News Anchor for ten years. She then went on to work for the World’s Leading Honeymoon Resort – Sandals, as the Public Relations Manager for Antigua. Tasheka is also the 2007 Miss Antigua and Barbuda and a proud graduate of the University of the West Indies, Mona campus in Jamaica. After coming out publicly as a lesbian, Tasheka was forced to leave her country of birth. Not one to get discouraged, Tasheka, who is now a resident of Canada, uses her platform as an LGBTQ Activist and Huffington Post/Youtube (Island Lez Talk) blogger to help make a difference in the lives of Caribbean LGBTQ members. Tasheka now carries the LGBTQ motto in her heart – #LoveWins, as she believes it is the simple solution to making this world a better place for every human being.”