A Chicago man is using his LGBTQ spiritual self to create a large spiritual conference in Los Angeles this spring.
"There's a cry for liberation coming from our souls," said Rev. Mark Anthony Lord, founder of the Bodhi Spiritual Center in Chicago. "It is no longer OK for us as LGBTQ people to hide, shrink or be ashamed of who we are. The truth is being gay is not a curse. It is a calling, a unique spiritual calling."
Lord founded the Bodhi Spiritual Center ( www. bodhispiritualcenter.org ) in Chicago, formerly the Chicago Center for Spiritual Living. Bodhi's upcoming conference is Liberation 2010, www. liberation2010.com, a trans-denominational LGBTQ spiritual event April 8-11 in Los Angeles. Speakers include Malidoma Some, Byron Katie, Gay Hendricks and August Gold, plus celebrity entertainers including Jason & deMarco, and some surprise performers.
"Liberation 2010 was created to empower LGBTQ people, families and friends to establish a greater sense of acceptance and affirmation and reveal the spiritual truths of love, joy and freedom that are the true nature of every person on this planet. And as a trans-denominational conference, it is open to and compatible with all belief systems," said Lord.
"Our society has, for generations, separated sexuality and spiritualityplacing them at opposite ends of the spectrum. And because of rampant homophobic ideology, this separation can be even more pronounced in the LGBTQ community. Spirituality does not ask you to choose between your faith and your sexuality; it wants you to have both. People are searching for this kind of liberation," he added.
During his own childhood, Lord felt alone and persecuted for simply being himself. With no support but only ignorance and judgment from the Catholic community he grew up in, like many LGBT people he made a decision to "throw God out," since the only one he knew was external, fickle and severely homophobic. He packed up his feelings of isolation and brokenness and like many, left his small hometown for a bigger city where other gay people lived. The path was bumpy in the beginning filled with addiction, false pride and empty anonymous sex, he said. He eventually landed in a 12-step program, which is where Lord said the healing really began.
"And as much as the program helped me, I knew in order to save my life I had to find a God that worked for me: a God that loved me unconditionally and loved me as a gay man," Lord said. "Now I know that my [ g ] ayness and my Godness are one and the same. When I finally understood that, my life not only began to work, but flourished. I am a living example that anyone and everyone who wants an amazing spiritual life, integrated into every area of life can have it."
Lord explained the experience of Liberation 2010: "All of the speakers, authors, spiritual leaders and coaches at Liberation 2010 will offer unique perspectives for revealing and living in your greatness." Workshops with LGBTQ focused content will allow attendees to design their own weekend according to personal interests. Workshop topics include: Relationships, Parenting, 12 steps & Spirituality, Transgender Wholeness, Health & Wellness, Gay Men's issues, Bisexuality, Aging, Self-Acceptance and more.
Liberation 2010 is offering a unique program for LGBTQ youth ages 16-22. "The youth are vital to creating a powerful shift in the blending of LGBTQ sexuality with spirituality early in life. Understanding this, we have allocated funds to allow youth to attend the conference for free," Lord said.
Liberation 2010 LGBTQ Spiritual Conference is designed to be a "movement in magnificence" and is a springboard for "Liberation World," a global online network and a virtual community. Lord continued, "The greatest story ever told isn't someone else's story that happened 2,000 years ago. It's your story."
Join Mark Anthony Lord and the Liberation 2010 team for a meet-and-greet at Center on Halsted, Tuesday, Feb. 23, 6-9:30 p.m. Hear why Liberation is "not simply a conference, but a movement in consciousness," according to the organizers.
See www.liberation2010.com .