Randy Singh-Chung left his homeland Guyana to what he believed would be a safe haven in Canada. Although Toronto is known for having a welcoming LGTBQ2+ community, he still had to overcome many obstacles when he first arrived. On his own without family, Randy faced the challenges of staying in shelters and lining up at food banks. However, with the help of his LGTBQ2+ community and the Metropolitan Church, Randy was put on the right path. In Guyana, even while faced with harsh discrimination and punishment, Randy was unafraid in revealing his sexuality, and stayed true to who he was as an individual. In Toronto, his unapologetic attitude towards being himself has only continued to grow as he builds a new life here with his partner.
In Guyana, Randy was a registered nurse (RN) but when he arrived in Canada, like many immigrants, Randy’s nursing credentials were not valid, and he would have to start over again. If he wanted to continue providing quality care, the only occupation available was personal support worker (PSW). While working at a long-term care facility, Randy started taking courses to work his way back to becoming an RN, but when his partner and family joined him in Canada, he had to put it on hold to help support his loved ones while they settled in. When he first started working at Sienna Fieldstone Common Care Community, there was no open conversation about the LGBTQ2+ community.
“I was bullied and called names in and out of my workplace. I am the type of person who would never change who I am. I like wearing bold outfits and changing my hair colour depending on my mood. I felt like my colleagues did not appreciate who I was – instead of getting to really know me, they criticized me. On top of that, my employers did not create a safe space for the LGTBQ2+ community. From 2018 to 2019, I told the management we needed a safe space at work, and they agreed and provided us with a room, but there are still many things that need to improve. Now, my coworkers respect and appreciate me. Becoming a union steward and being active in the union has helped a lot.”
Due to COVID-19, along with several parades and events all over Toronto, the Pride March has been cancelled, but you can still celebrate and support the LGTBQ2+ community in so many ways, including online celebrations like Toronto’s Virtual Pride and SEIU Healthcare’s Facebook Live Pride Event (details below). Randy has been celebrating Pride with small acts of kindness. He has been placing pride flags around his neighbourhood, leaving colourfully painted rocks on patios, and making homecooked meals for the homeless.
“I remember those in the LGTBQ2+ community who helped me in my time of need. It is the little things that can provide the most happiness. All we hope for is for others to accept us, understand us, and support us. I am giving with a clean heart; I wanted to continue helping my community. In this life, the biggest roadblock is yourself. If you do not believe in yourself, no one will. You are the only one that knows your worth. Accept yourself for who you are. I came from a family with six brothers, they cussed me and attacked me, but none of those things stopped me. I could have pretended, but I did not! You have to believe in who you are.”