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Tara Pyfrom

“I'm an LGBT parent who survived a Category 5 hurricane before moving, sight unseen to Canada, where I'm pursuing a new career as a writer.”

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About Me

Born and raised in the Bahamas, the rock that I grew up on was less than two square miles, with nothing but ocean for 4,000 miles until you reached Africa. My parents made the unconscious decision to raise me as a “free-range kid” long before it was popular. The anecdotes of my childhood reflect independence at an age much younger than average.

In the late ’80s and ’90s, the goal for all young adults was to get a job, get married, and have kids, all by age 25. I tried that path for a while. It didn’t stick. By 23, I was divorced and came out of the closet in an “ah-ha” moment brought on, in part, by my sheltered upbringing.

My wife and I met not long after, and we have travelled extensively as an LGBT couple throughout the United States and Europe. A lot has happened in our lives in the last 16 years: several moves, the death of family members, getting married, chronic illness, and building a house. We adopted our daughter and built a family, all while navigating the anti-LGBT laws of the Bahamas.

I can trace my ancestry back to eight generations of island people, so we have been weathering hurricanes for a long time but surviving a Category 5 hurricane is something else entirely. In 2019, as Hurricane Dorian approached, a massive storm surge inundated our home and stranded us with no escape. Desperate to survive, we went outside in the 185-mph wind and flood with only a waterproof mattress, pool float, and extension cords as life rafts. We struggled to stay afloat and keep our 6-year-old daughter and five animals alive.

We eventually sought refuge in the attic and spent 24 hours in the darkness as the ocean completely swallowed the main floor of our house. Eventually, there was a dangerous water rescue and once safe, we were forced to navigate loss, trauma, homelessness, and evacuation.

After our near-death experience, we contended with PTSD and an international move simultaneously as we struggled to pick up the pieces. We planned and executed a move from the Bahamas to Atlantic Canada in under four weeks. I don’t recommend that to anyone, but I certainly learned some valuable lessons about international moves and Canadian immigration in the process.

Eventually, our whole family saw a therapist, including our young daughter. I discovered that writing out the details of those terrifying hours through therapy was cathartic and shifted my perspective. Before being faced with death, I had never experienced mental illness. Without that trauma, I wouldn’t have run the gauntlet of talk therapy, writing therapy, and EMDR.

The positive thing I gained from my experiences is a voice and a determination to use it. Rebuilding a new life after losing almost everything has been challenging. I went to college at 40 and got my first degree. Now I’m trying my hand at an entirely new goal as my therapy writings became a book which spawned a freelance writing career (see my website.)

My range of experience is broad and offers multiple talking points. My childhood is unique and is set against a backdrop few people ever get the opportunity to visit, yet my parents’ choices in child-rearing are not my own. As my wife and I parent our now 10-year-old daughter as an LGBT family, we know what bigotry looks like in places of the world far less welcoming than our adopted home of Canada. We continue to circumnavigate the path of immigrants in a new country. I am passionate about mental health, therapy, and trauma recovery. The climate changes being felt worldwide are concentrated in low-lying countries like mine. As an environmental migrant, I know it’s a topic that deserves more of the spotlight. And as I sit comfortably in my 40s, I am embarking on a new career as a writer!

I have appeared on podcasts CBC Radio's Now or Never, What Was That Like, and Maybe This Is How It Starts. Today, I live in New Brunswick, Canada, with my wife, daughter, and two dogs.

If any aspect of my life story seems like a good fit for your show, please reach out!

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Tara Pyfrom

Memoir author actively seeking literary representation.

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