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As part of a diversity storytelling event, Burbank mom will share her experience raising a gay son

As part of a diversity storytelling event, Burbank mom will share her experience raising a gay son
Louis Zekowski, a student at John Burroughs High School, and his mother, Jules Ford, stand outside John Burroughs High School in Burbank on Friday. Jules Ford will participate in a storytelling event Wednesday in support of the Family Service Agency. (James Carbone)

A Burbank mother wants parents to know that every child needs love and support, especially when they are exploring their sexual identity.

Jules Ford will be one of 10 storytellers to take part in a 90-minute show called “Diversity: Stories of Connection in an Urban Jungle,” which will be presented at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday at the Colony Theatre, 555 N. Third St. It will be a fundraiser for the local nonprofit Family Service Agency.

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Ford will share her story about what it was like when her son, Louis Zekowski, a senior at John Burroughs High School, told her he was gay.

For her, Ford said it was not that big of a shock that her son didn’t conform to gender norms.

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When Zekowski was younger, Ford said her son played with Bratz dolls and didn’t like to roughhouse.

“He was just love personified and never bought into the rough-and-tumble boys’ stuff,” Ford said. “He was either going to be gay or just be super gentle as a man, but it was pretty clear at an early age that he was probably gay.”

As there were more and more signs that pointed to Zekowski being gay, Ford said she and her husband prepared themselves by creating a safe environment for their child and letting him know that he is loved.

Zekowski eventually came out to his mother two years ago, while they were at a theater festival.

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“We were in our hotel room and he goes, ‘It might just be the theater in me talking, but I think you should know I think I’m gay,’ and I go ‘Yeah, that’s awesome, buddy,’” Ford said with a chuckle. “It was kind of obvious at that point.”

As more and more children are discovering and learning about their sexuality — and gender identity — at a younger age, Ford said it is important for parents to be as supportive as possible and to let their child know everything is OK.

“Make your environment a safe spot for them,” she said. “Make them know that they’re supported and loved regardless of who they love.”

While much has changed in the advancement of rights for LGBTQ people, Ford said there is plenty that still needs to be done to ensure there is a safe environment for all children.

“As we move forward, as we see more representation in print media, commercials and television, the less and less difficult it is for kids to say that there’s no one like them in the media,” she said. “I think it stops it from being stigmatic.”

Tickets for the event are available at diversity2019.brownpapertickets.com.

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