For aspiring nurse, health starts at home
Thomo is currently studying at Pretoria’s Nicole Nurses Training School but is already working as a care worker at the Tumelo Old Age Home and Hospice.
He is also a member of Medunsa Clinical Research Unit’s Community Advisory Group and is a peer educator at the Tlamelong Youth Centre.
Aside from talking to young people about health issues, he also teaches them the importance of accepting peers who may be gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered (LGBTI).
Thomo, who is also gay, came out to his family in 2009 and knows that it can be a difficult process for other young people.
“My life as a kid was normal…but I remember being much closer to girls my own age,” he told OurHealth.
Thomo says he fought his sexual orientation for a long time, struggling to believe he was attracted to other men. Eventually, he became tired of hiding who he was.
“At the end, I had to live my life openly and show my true self to everyone including my family,” says Thomo, who adds that telling his mother was the most difficult part. “Some within the family started to disassociate themselves from me, and my childhood friends also neglected me but today they accept me as I am.”
He still lives with his family, who are very supportive of not only Thomo but also his partner.
Acceptance starts at home
According to his colleague at Medunsa, Community Liaison Officer Ronald Moate, Thomo’s ability to live openly as a gay man now allows him to not only educate youth and teach acceptance, but also reach out to other young people struggling with their sexualities.
Thomo’s own experiences with discrimination have given him a passion for this outreach work.
“At some point, I ignored those who called me, ‘a man who fears women’ to carry-on with my life,” he said.
Although Thomo says he thinks that most people understand what being gay is, there are those who still discriminate against gay people because of lack of information.
“If situation allows, I take my time to educate them to understand that we did not choose to be gay, it’s how we are from birth,” says Thomo, who adds that more awareness is needed about LGBTI issues. To this, he also speaks at churches, schools and youth clubs about not only these issues and human rights.